Comey on Barr: 'Amoral leaders' reveal 'character of those around them'

Former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyFive memorable moments from Sarah Sanders at the White House Five memorable moments from Sarah Sanders at the White House Under Trump, our democracy is for sale MORE wrote in a New York Times op-ed on Wednesday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Trump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Ocasio-Cortez claps back at Trump after he cites her in tweet rejecting impeachment MORE's "amoral" leadership is revealing Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrAnticipation builds for final Supreme Court rulings Anticipation builds for final Supreme Court rulings Trump's Justice Department should change its tune on antitrust policy MORE's "character." 

"What happened to these people?" Comey asked of Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinTrump: I didn't fire Mueller since firings 'didn't work out too well' for Nixon Trump: I didn't fire Mueller since firings 'didn't work out too well' for Nixon GOP group urges Republicans to speak out on obstruction claims against Trump in new ad MORE. "People are complicated, so the answer is most likely complicated. But I have some idea from four months of working close to Mr. Trump and many more months of watching him shape others."

"Amoral leaders have a way of revealing the character of those around them," he wrote.

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"I think that’s at least part of what we’ve seen with Bill Barr and Rod Rosenstein," Comey added. "Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive Mr. Trump and that adds up to something they will never recover from."

Comey's op-ed comes on the heels of the release of a letter that Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE wrote to Barr expressing frustration with how the attorney general summarized the special counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Barr in March sent a summary to Congress detailing what he called the investigation's top-level findings, saying there was no collusion between Trump's 2016 campaign and the Kremlin and that obstruction of justice charges would not be brought against Trump.

On Wednesday, the attorney general defended his summary of Mueller’s report during testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“How could Mr. Barr go before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday and downplay President Trump’s attempt to fire Mr. Mueller before he completed his work?” Comey asked in the op-ed.

Comey, whose firing by Trump set in motion the appointment of the special counsel, also criticized Rosenstein’s resignation letter, which was submitted to Trump earlier this week.

He asked how Rosenstein could “on resigning, thank a president who relentlessly attacked both him and the Department of Justice he led for “the courtesy and humor you often display in our personal conversations”?” 

Comey contrasted Barr and Rosenstein tenures in the Trump administration with that of former Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTop nuclear official quietly left Pentagon in April Top nuclear official quietly left Pentagon in April Overnight Defense: Pompeo blames Iran for oil tanker attacks | House panel approves 3B defense bill | Trump shares designs for red, white and blue Air Force One MORE.

Mattis resigned from his Pentagon position in December, one day after Trump announced that he would withdraw troops from Syria.

“James Mattis, the former secretary of defense, resigned over principle, a concept so alien to Mr. Trump that it took days for the president to realize what had happened, before he could start lying about the man,” Comey wrote.

“It takes character like Mr. Mattis’s to avoid the damage, because Mr. Trump eats your soul in small bites.” 

Updated at 1:43 p.m.