Comey rips Trump, GOP over 'lying'

Former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyDems revive impeachment talk after latest Cohen bombshell Dem calls for Cohen to testify before Senate panel over explosive report The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Day 27 of the shutdown | Cohen reportedly paid company to rig online polls, boost his own image | Atlantic publishes ‘Impeach Donald Trump’ cover story MORE on Monday railed against President TrumpDonald John TrumpShutdown puts dozens of federal transportation safety probes on hold Howard Schultz advisers exploring possible 2020 independent bid: report Special counsel issues rare statement disputing BuzzFeed's Cohen report MORE and his Republican allies in Congress, arguing their attacks on the FBI made no sense.

Comey slammed GOP lawmakers for remaining silent while he said Trump disregarded the rule of law.

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"So another day of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDershowitz to The Atlantic: Do not violate Constitution to safeguard it Why Joe Biden (or any moderate) cannot be nominated GOP Rep. Tom Marino resigns from Congress MORE’s emails and the Steele dossier,” Comey told reporters after he was interviewed for roughly six hours behind closed doors. “This while the president of the United States is lying about the FBI, attacking the FBI and attacking the rule of law in this country. How does that make any sense?”

In biting comments, Comey characterized GOP lawmakers as too cowardly to stand up for the FBI for fear of political backlash.

“Republicans used to understand that the actions of a president matter, the words of a president matter, the rule of law matters, and the truth matters. Where are those Republicans today,” Comey said. “At some point, someone has to stand up and in the fear of Fox News and fear of their base, and fear of mean tweets, stand up for the values of this country and not slink away into retirement.”

When asked what he thought about Trump calling his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who is now cooperating with federal investigators, a “rat,” Comey responded it “undermines the rule of law.”

“This is the president of the United States calling a witness who is cooperating with his own Justice Department a ‘rat,’ ” he said, suggesting people at home reflect on “where we have ended up.”

Comey’s rebuke of the president and his fellow Republicans came after he returned to Capitol Hill on Monday for a final grilling with GOP lawmakers before Democrats take control of the House. 

House Democrats have swatted down Republican criticism of Comey, describing the interview as a waste of time and an attempt to discredit special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s Russia investigation.

“I do believe this is a waste of the taxpayers money,” said Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsOvernight Health Care: Dem chair plans hearing on Medicare for all | Senate GOP talks drug prices with Trump health chief | PhRMA CEO hopeful Trump reverses course on controversial pricing proposal Key House Dem: I don't want to 'punish' drug companies House Dems fire first salvo in drug pricing fight MORE (Md.), the Democrat poised to lead the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee come January. “I think we could be doing things to help the American people in their day to day lives but we spent this time again listening to testimony that has been heard before.”

Republicans pressed Comey on a series of matters, including allegations of bias against Trump, questions about anti-Trump texts sent between two then-FBI agents during the 2016 presidential campaign and the so-called Steele dossier of opposition research on Trump.

After his first interview in early December, GOP lawmakers publicly hammered the former FBI chief for failing to remember details about his decisionmaking during the 2016 campaign.

Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsMcCarthy, allies retaliate against Freedom Caucus leader Conservative leader Meadows condemns King comments 'in strongest sense' Republicans request update on investigation into ex-FBI official accused of leaks MORE (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and fierce critic of the Department of Justice (DOJ), pointed to Comey's failure to remember details about the dossier, which contained a series salacious allegations about Trump’s ties to Moscow.

“I can’t imagine how the director of the FBI does not know the connection between Fusion GPS, Perkins Coie and the [Democratic National Committee] as it related to the infamous dossier,” said Meadows, an ally of Trump.

“And so hopefully getting a little more clarity there as well as the coordination between the FBI and the media and how that drove the narrative,” added Meadows, who said there were “inconsistencies” with Comey’s transcribed interview and other congressional testimony.

Comey, however, struck back at the criticism, saying he gave “truthful testimony.”

“When you are the director of an organization with 38,000, sometimes you don’t know what forms people filled out, that is silliness,” Comey told The Hill.

Critics allege that Comey’s attacks against Trump have thrusted the FBI into a partisan spotlight that could hurt the reputation of the investigative agency.

“The FBI’s reputation has taken a big hit because the president of the United States with his acolytes has lied about it constantly, and in the face of those lives, a whole lot of good people who watch [Fox News] believe that nonsense," Comey said. "That is a tragedy. That will be undone eventually, but that has nothing to do with me.”

He added that the criticism is a product of the hard choices he had to make while leading the bureau.

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“And as far as hurting the FBI’s reputation, I hope not. We had to make very hard decisions in 2016, I knew we were going to be hurt by it. The question was how to minimize the damage,” Comey said.

Earlier this year, Comey came under fire after a DOJ watchdog issued a scathing report about his choices during the heated race. Inspector General Michael Horowitz and his team faulted Comey’s judgment in the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails, but the report found no evidence that his key decisions in the probe were improperly influenced by political bias.

While the second recent interview allowed Republicans one last opportunity to press Comey on a series of matters about his time leading the investigative bureau, the first received far greater attention by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, who took part in the high-profile return of the FBI chief to Capitol Hill.

His two appearances also came after months of wrangling between GOP lawmakers and Comey, who asked a federal court in D.C. to quash a subpoena issued by House Judiciary Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteHouse GOP probe into FBI, DOJ comes to an end Murkowski to reintroduce bill to help abused Native American women FBI hits GOP chairman over push to clear sensitive transcripts by Christmas Eve MORE (R-Va.) that ordered him testify behind closed doors on Dec. 3.

The former FBI chief, who alienated Republicans and Democrats alike during the 2016 presidential race, has emerged as a key GOP target since Trump fired him in May of last year.

Updated at 4:42 p.m.