Former NH Gov: Comey 'didn’t have the backbone' to tell Trump if he thought he was out of bounds

Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu (R) on Monday criticized former FBI Director James Comey for not having the "backbone" to tell President Trump if he felt uncomfortable with comments the president made.

"He didn't have the backbone to take advantage of that one-on-one to tell the president what he should have told him," Sununu, who served as former President George H.W. Bush's chief of staff, said on CNN's "New Day."

"That the president should not be leaning in any direction on these issues and if Comey felt uncomfortable, he had an obligation to tell the president in that one-on-one."

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Sununu added that Comey had to have known before speaking with the president that Trump hoped the "Flynn situation would go away," referring to former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who resigned after details came to light that he had misled administration officials about the contents of conversations he had with Russia's ambassador. 

"And therefore why is there any pressure or obstruction if the president merely repeats in an aspirational way what Comey already knew going in?" he said.

"This idea that somehow that sentence implies pressure is ridiculous. The only pressure that could have been implied there is because Comey didn't have the backbone — if he felt there was pressure — to tell the president that that's not right."

Sununu said the president did not "ask" for Comey to end the investigation into Flynn.

"It is not a pressure point," he said. "But if Comey took it as a pressure point — even incorrectly took it as a pressure point — he should have said something in the private conversation that the president had the courtesy to give him."

Comey said last week before the Senate Intelligence Committee he believed he was directed by Trump to end a criminal investigation into Flynn.

“The reason I keep saying his words is I took it as a direction,” he said. “This is a president of the United States with me alone saying, 'I hope this.' I took it as, this is what he wants me to do. I didn't obey that, but that's the way I took it.”

But Comey stopped short of labeling the president's conduct as obstruction of justice.

“I don't think it's for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct,” Comey said.