Comey Says Trump ‘Morally Unfit’ In ABC Interview
(CNN) — In his first televised interview since President Trump fired him last year, James Comey calls Trump “morally unfit to be President.”
The former FBI director’s remarks came during a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on Sunday (April 15) evening. The media appearance kicks off a publicity tour to promote the release of Comey’s new book, “A Higher Loyalty,” which paints a scathing portrait of the President.
“Our President must embody respect and adhere to the values that are at the core of this country,” Comey told Stephanopoulos, adding, “the most important being truth. This President is not able to do that. He is morally unfit to be President.”
Comey on collusion: ‘I don’t know’
According to the transcript and video of the interview posted online, Stephanopoulos asks Comey if he believes anyone linked to Trump “colluded with the Russians.” Comey answers, “I don’t know is the honest answer. That was what we were trying to investigate at the time. Was anyone aiding the Russians, conspiring with the Russians? There’s no doubt there was smoke around that. Whether there’s fire, I didn’t stay long enough to know.”
Stephanopoulos asks Comey if he believes the Russians have “something” on Trump, to which Comey responds, “I think it’s possible. I don’t know. These are more words I never thought I’d utter about a President of the United States, but it’s possible.”
Comey later adds, “It always struck me and still strikes me as unlikely, and I would have been able to say with high confidence about any other President I dealt with, but I can’t. It’s possible.”
Comey claims Trump fixated on dossier allegations
According to the transcript and video of the interview posted online, Comey describes warning Trump about what may be the most infamous allegation in a dossier of claims involving Trump and Russia, parts of which remain unverified.
“I started to tell him about the allegation was that he had been involved with prostitutes in a hotel in Moscow in 2013 during a visit for the Miss Universe pageant and that the Russians had filmed the episode,” Comey told Stephanopoulos. There is no indication that any such tape exists, and Trump has rebutted the allegation.
Comey says in the interview that Trump told him he might want an investigation of the claims “to prove that it didn’t happen.” Comey said he told Trump “to be careful about that because it might create a narrative that we’re investigating you personally.” Comey added, “I don’t know whether the current President of the United States was with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow in 2013. It’s possible, but I don’t know.”
The press tour begins
“A Higher Loyalty” won’t be formally released until Tuesday (April 17), but explosive details have already spilled out into the media. Major media outlets, including CNN, obtained copies of the book last week and quickly published reports on its scathing and unsparingly critical depictions of the President. According to those reports, Comey writes that Trump is “unethical and untethered to the truth” and compares his presidency to a “forest fire.”
The President and his allies have launched a forceful counterattack. On Sunday morning, Trump unleashed a series of tweets accusing Comey of revealing classified information, suggesting he should go to jail, and saying that he “will go down as the WORST FBI Director in history.” On Friday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that Comey “will be forever known as a disgraced partisan hack.”
Comey has indeed faced criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike — and the release of his book gives him a high-profile platform to defend himself. Democrats have faulted Comey for his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state. Comey announced in July 2016 that he would not recommend charges against Clinton, but stated publicly that Clinton and her aides had been “extremely careless” in handling classified information. Clinton herself has pointed to Comey’s actions in explaining her presidential election loss. But Comey writes in his book that after the 2016 election, then-President Obama told Comey that he remained confident in his “integrity” and “ability.”
The publicity tour — and the book — will be the first time the American public has heard extensively from Comey since his explosive testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee in June of last year. In a written statement to the committee, Comey claimed that Trump had asked him for “loyalty.” Comey also revealed during the hearing that he documented his interactions with Trump because he was “concerned” that the President “might lie about the nature of our meeting.”
Trump has denied having asked Comey for his loyalty.
In his press tour, Comey is sure to be asked to weigh in on Trump and the various twists and turns in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election as well as any potential links between Russia and Trump campaign associates.
When Trump fired Comey in May 2017, the administration cited a memo written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein criticizing Comey’s handling of the inquiry into Clinton’s email server. But Trump later said he was thinking about “this Russia thing” around the time he decided to fire Comey.
In his testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee last year, Comey said he believes the President asked him to “drop any investigation of Flynn,” a reference to former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador and is now cooperating with the Mueller investigation. Trump has called the special counsel probe a “witch hunt” and repeatedly insisted there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia.