White House lashes out at Comey after explosive interview

The White House on Monday renewed its attacks on 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 after the former FBI director denounced President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE during an explosive interview with ABC News.


Trump tweeted that Comey drafted an exoneration of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 Clinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty MORE “long before he talked to her” in the investigation into her use of a private email server as secretary of State. He also accused the “disgruntled” Comey of having “committed many crimes!” 

Trump has repeatedly accused Comey of lying to Congress during the former FBI director's dramatic testimony last year when he detailed meetings in which the president asked for his loyalty and requested that he take it easy on former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

In the interview that aired Sunday night, Comey refused to rule out the possibility the Russians could have information to blackmail Trump and said evidence exists that the president obstructed justice in the Russia investigation — all charges that have angered the president.

Trump only watched "bits and pieces" of the interview, which reinforced his belief that Comey has a "lack of credibility," according to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayPoll from conservative group shows tight governor's race in Virginia Psaki defends move to oust Trump appointees from military academy boards Defense & National Security: The post-airlift evacuation struggle MORE on Monday said the president believes Comey is spreading “revisionist history.”

“I saw a man last night very shaky and unsure to answer questions, not even under oath,” Conway said on CNN. “But we know that when Comey was under oath that he had a very difficult time telling the truth.”

She attacked Comey's tenure as FBI director, saying the organization was a “hot mess” under his leadership. Conway went on to label Comey and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeAndrew McCabe says Nassar case represents 'worst dereliction of duty' he's seen at FBI Capitol Police warning of potential for violence during rally backing rioters: report McCabe says law enforcement should take upcoming right-wing rally 'very seriously' MORE, who was fired last month, as “Clinton people.”

“Jim Comey loves to be in the center of power,” Conway said. “He loves to divert the spotlight to himself and be in the center of power. So the president is correcting the record.”

The president and his allies are seeking to discredit Comey, who told ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos that Trump is “morally unfit” for office. 

Comey also sought to rebut criticism of his handling of the Clinton email probe, including allegations he decided before the investigation concluded that the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee did not commit a crime.

“We had a very clear picture after nine or ten months of investigation of this case ... It looked like on the current course and speed, this is going to end without charges. And so what will we do? Smart people, competent people plan ahead,” Comey said. 

The former FBI chief is embarking on a media tour to sell his tell-all memoir, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership,” which offers an inside view of key events in the Russia investigation.

Many of the events, including Comey’s private discussions with Trump, are of interest to 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, who is examining whether the president obstructed the federal investigation into Moscow’s election interference. 

Comey, who led the Russia probe before he was fired last May, did not rule out that Trump obstructed the probe.

“Possibly. I mean, it's certainly some evidence of obstruction of justice,” he said.

The book tour comes at a pivotal time in the probe, as Mueller has begun to zero in on members of Trump’s inner circle. The FBI last Monday raided the offices and residences of Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen, in part due to a referral from Mueller’s team.

The events have consumed Trump’s attention over the past week, even as he debated a military response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria and handled other weighty decisions.

The White House and its outside allies have launched a public relations effort to rebut Comey.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said Monday the organization is working to get a “counternarrative” into the public as Comey continues on the media circuit. 

“This is one man’s opinion, one man’s version,” she said on CNN. “The president pushes back on a lot of the things that James Comey asserts, and we’re here to put that narrative out there.”

--This report was updated at 12:29 p.m.