Former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyGiuliani told investigators it was OK to 'throw a fake' during campaign DOJ watchdog unable to determine if FBI fed Giuliani information ahead of 2016 election Biden sister has book deal, set to publish in April MORE declared President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump MORE is “morally unfit” to lead the nation, telling a nationwide television audience it is “possible” the Russians have compromised the president and that there is “evidence” he may have obstructed justice.
Comey pulled no punches in an interview with ABC News that aired Sunday, describing Trump as a habitual liar who runs his administration like a mafia family.
“Our president must embody respect and adhere to the values that are at the core of this country, the most important being truth. This president is not able to do that. He is morally unfit to be president,” Comey told ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos during their five-hour discussion.
But Comey said he does not support impeaching the president over his conduct, saying voters should decide whether Trump continues to serve as president.
“Impeaching and removing Donald Trump from office would let the American people off the hook and have something happen indirectly that I believe they're duty bound to do directly,” the former FBI director said. “People in this country need to stand up and go to the voting booth and vote their values.”
Comey sat for his first television interview since being fired as part of a media tour to sell his new tell-all memoir, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership,” which hits bookshelves this week.
While Comey’s comments largely mirror the contents of his book, as well as previous congressional testimony, they have renewed his personal feud with Trump at a pivotal time in the Russia investigation, when special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE appears to be closing in on Trump's inner circle.
The president blasted “Slippery James Comey” in a series of tweets ahead of the interview, calling him “the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!”
He also disputed Comey’s claim that he asked the FBI director for personal loyalty during a private meeting early in his presidency, a conversation Comey described in detail during the interview.
If the interview revealed anything, it was the depth of Comey’s personal dislike for Trump, who fired him as FBI director in May 2017.
The president first cited his handling of the probe into Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats worry negative images are defining White House Heller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll MORE’s use of a private email server while secretary of State, but later admitted that the Russia probe was on his mind when he decided to give Comey the ax.
Comey tore into Trump for voicing a “moral equivalence” in response to last year’s racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Va., and described the president as someone “who talks about and treats women like they're pieces of meat.”
He also brought up an alleged incident in which Trump watched prostitutes pee on a hotel bed in Moscow in 2013, reports of which were contained in an unsubstantiated dossier about Trump compiled by his political opponents.
Comey said Trump told him that “he may want me to investigate it to prove that it didn't happen. And then he says something that distracted me: ‘If there's even a 1 percent chance my wife thinks that's true, that's terrible.’”
The former FBI director refused to rule out the “stunning” possibility that Russia has material that could be used to blackmail the president.
“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,” he said.
Stephanopoulos asked Comey whether he believes the president was trying to obstruct justice when he asked if Comey could “let it go,” referring to an FBI investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
“Possibly. I mean, it's certainly some evidence of obstruction of justice,” Comey said. “It would depend — and I'm just a witness in this case, not the investigator or prosecutor — it would depend upon other things that reflected on his intent.”
Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about his conversations with Russia’s U.S. ambassador during the presidential transition period.
Mueller, who was appointed to lead the Russia probe after Comey’s firing, secured the plea. Flynn is now cooperating with the investigation.