Donald Trump lashed out at James Comey on Monday again following an explosive TV interview in which the former FBI director labeled the president “morally unfit” for office.
“Comey drafted the Crooked Hillary exoneration long before he talked to her (lied in Congress to Senator G), then based his decisions on her poll numbers,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Disgruntled, he, McCabe, and the others, committed many crimes!”
Trump’s tweet came the morning after Comey gave his first televised interview since he was unceremoniously fired last May while overseeing the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the US election. In a lengthy sit-down with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos to discuss his new book, A Higher Loyalty, Comey offered his sharpest rebuke yet of Trump’s presidency and labeled his former boss a “stain” on those who worked for him.
“A person who sees moral equivalence in Charlottesville, who talks about and treats women like they’re pieces of meat, who lies constantly about matters big and small and insists the American people believe it, that person’s not fit to be president of the United States, on moral grounds,” Comey said.
He later added that Trump might have committed obstruction of justice by repeatedly pressing him to drop his inquiry into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
“There’s certainly some evidence of obstruction of justice,” Comey said, while adding if Trump were to fire special counsel Robert Mueller it would “set off alarm bells that this is his most serious attack yet on the rule of law”.
Trump was likely referring in his tweet to Comey’s decision in July 2016 to clear Hillary Clinton of criminal wrongdoing in her use of a private email server as Secretary of State. On Sunday, Trump similarly suggested Comey’s handling of the Clinton case seemed to be based on the assumption she would win.
He also appeared to cite Comey’s testimony before Congress last year, in which he told Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican of Iowa, that he had never been an anonymous source nor had he authorized someone else to do the same.
Trump has also repeatedly zeroed in on former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe’s admission that he authorized an agent to speak anonymously to the press. McCabe was fired last month, two days before he was due to retire. Comey was fired by Trump in May last year because of his investigation into “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia”.
There is no evidence Comey or McCabe committed any crimes.
The Trump administration, along with the support of the Republican National Committee, have mounted a campaign to discredit Comey amid the release of his book.
On Monday, as Trump prepared to head off to Florida for a week, his senior counselor, Kellyanne Conway, sought to undermine Comey’s credibility by questioning his controversial decision to reopen the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private emails server 11 days before the November 2016 presidential election.
“This guy swung an election,” Conway said on ABC’s Good Morning America, seeming to suggest that Comey had contributed to Trump’s victory – a theory unlikely to find favor with the president. “He thought the wrong person would win.”
She quickly rowed back on that in a tweet, writing: “He did not. He swung and miss [sic]. I was putting to bed that he was even capable of such a thing. Add sarcasm and stir.”
In his interview, Comey defended the 28 October letter, which Clinton has said lost her the election to Trump.
“If I ever start considering whose political fortunes will be affected by a decision, we’re done,” Comey said of his thinking at the time, referring to what he believed was the FBI’s responsibility to act as an independent law enforcement agency.
“We’re no longer that group in America that is apart from the partisans, and that can be trusted. We’re just another player in the tribal battle.”