Former FBI Director James Comey said in his first televised interview since being fired that he believed Donald Trump was “morally unfit to be president” and that it was “possible” that the Russians had material that could be used to blackmail him.
In a wide-ranging conversation with George Stephanopoulos broadcast on ABC late Sunday, Comey took aim at Trump in no uncertain terms, comparing his administration to a mafia family, likening his presidency to a forest fire and asserting there was evidence that he had committed a crime.
He said that he would not favor impeaching Trump to remove him from office, because that “would let the American people off the hook and have something happen indirectly that I believe they’re duty-bound to do directly” – meaning through elections. But he made clear his view of whether Trump was fit to hold the position.
“This president does not reflect the values of this country,” Comey said.
The interview airs just days before Comey is set to release a new book and embark on a media tour to promote it. Much of what Comey said to Stephanopoulos mirrors what he wrote, although his televised, extemporaneous comments are sure to attract the attention of the president, who is an avid TV viewer.
On Sunday morning, Trump tweeted criticism of Comey, denying some of Comey’s allegations and alleging that Comey revealed classified information and lied to Congress.
“Slippery James Comey, a man who always ends up badly and out of whack (he is not smart!), will go down as the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!” Trump wrote.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel wrote on Twitter after the interview aired that Comey “has no credibility” and that Trump was right to fire him.
“Comey’s PR tour reaffirms that his true higher loyalty is to himself,” she wrote. “The only thing worse than his history of misconduct is his willingness to say anything to sell books.”
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett