Trump attacks Comey ahead of interview

President Trump on Sunday unleashed a barrage of criticism against James Comey, hours before ABC News was scheduled to broadcast a hotly anticipated interview with the former FBI director.

Trump in a series of tweets attacked Comey's credibility and impartiality, calling him a "slimeball" and framing him as a political operator who made decisions based on the assumption that Hillary Clinton would win the presidential election.

Snippets from the pretaped Comey interview reveal him lending credibility to a dossier prepared by a former British intelligence officer alleging that Trump consorted with prostitutes in Moscow in 2013.

It is his first media interview since being fired as FBI director and is scheduled to air on ABC at 10 p.m. Sunday.

In an apparent effort to erode Comey's credibility ahead of the interview, Trump argued that Comey made judgments during the 2016 presidential election about how to handle the investigation into Clinton's private email server based on political and not legal considerations. 

"James Comey states that Polls, where Crooked Hillary was leading, were a factor in the handling (stupidly) of the Clinton Email probe. In other words, he was making decisions based on the fact that he thought she was going to win, and he wanted a job. Slimeball!" Trump tweeted Sunday morning.

The president was responding directly to excerpts released from Comey's new book, "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership," ahead of its release Tuesday.

The assault will likely force other Republicans to comment on Comey's credibility this week.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was pressed to comment on Comey's character during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

Asked if Comey is a "man of integrity," Ryan replied, "as far as I know," but declined to join what he called a "food fight."

"I don't know him very well," Ryan explained.

The Republican National Committee has taken Trump's side in the dispute and unveiled a new website called "Lyin' Comey."

Comey admits in his memoir that he may have applied a higher standard to Clinton because he expected her to win the presidency and wanted to quash any questions about favorable treatment from the FBI.

The FBI announced shortly before Election Day 2016 that it had reopened its investigation into Clinton's handling of classified information on a private email server.

It made the revelation after learning of new information obtained through a separate investigation into disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.).

Trump on Sunday charged that Comey tried to ingratiate himself with Clinton because he thought she would be president.

Many Clinton supporters, however, believe that Comey's reopening of the probe may have actually cost her the presidency.

Trump also blamed Comey for leaving several questions unanswered, such as why he allegedly leaked a classified memo to Columbia University Professor Daniel Richman about a private meeting with Trump.

He also asked why the FBI was not more aggressive in investigating the hacking of the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) computer server.

"The big questions in Comey's badly reviewed book aren't answered like, how come he gave up Classified Information (jail), why did he lie to Congress (jail), why did the DNC refuse to give Server to the FBI (why didn't they TAKE it), why the phony memos, McCabe's $700,000 & more?" Trump tweeted.

The DNC has said that it cooperated with the FBI and provided information about its server through a vendor, which Comey, then serving as FBI director, said was an appropriate level of help.

Trump's reference to former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is a resurfacing of his complaint about McCabe's wife, Jill McCabe, who received money from groups linked to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), a longtime Clinton fundraiser, for her 2015 Virginia state Senate bid.

In a later tweet, Trump denied Comey's claim made in testimony before Congress that the president asked him for an oath of loyalty.

"I never asked Comey for Personal Loyalty. I hardly even knew this guy. Just another of his many lies. His 'memos' are self serving and FAKE!" he wrote.

In June, Comey testified that Trump told him at a private dinner in January of 2016 that "I need loyalty, I expect loyalty."

Comey said he was "taken aback" by the request and instead pledged to be honest with the president.

The former FBI director has also said that Trump pressured him at another meeting to drop the investigation into his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who is at the center of the investigation into Russian collusion.

The White House has disputed Comey's version of events.

Trump topped off his attack on Comey by dismissing him as a blot on the FBI's history.

"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!" he wrote.