US President Donald Trump is “morally unfit” to be president, former FBI director James Comey said in an interview broadcast Sunday.
Ayone who can see “moral equivalence” in protests by white supremacists and people who oppose them, who treats women like “pieces of meat” and who “lies constantly” and insists Americans believe it is “not fit to be president of the United States on moral grounds,” Comey said in an interview on ABC.
The man who served as Trump’s FBI director until the president fired him in May said the truth, the rule of law and integrity were “things [that] matter before any fights about policies” like whether the US should build a border wall or more strictly regulate the sale guns.
But he said he isn’t hoping for Trump’s impeachment because that would “let the American people off the hook.” He believes Americans are “duty bound” to “go to the voting booth and vote their values.”
The interview was Comey’s first ahead of the publication on Tuesday of “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership,” his book about his short tenure in the Trump administration.
Excerpts of the book released last week paint a devastating portrait of the president as a congenital liar and an unethical leader.
The book was the subject of five of eight tweets sent by the president on Sunday morning. Trump lambasted Comey as a man who “will go down as the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!”
Comey detail about a “dossier” containing raw intelligence on Trump’s connections with Russians. It was the subject of his first meeting with Trump shortly after the election in which Russian meddling in the US presidential election was discussed.
Comey said he believed from the outset in the credibility of the source, former a British intelligence officer Christopher Steele.
Comey says Steele’s track record was why he felt it “was important that we try to understand [the dossier], and see what could we verify, what could we rule in or rule out.”
He said he thinks it’s possible the Russians have something that could compromise Trump.
“It is stunning and I wish I wasn’t saying it, but it’s just – it’s the truth,” he says, but adds that it always has struck him as unlikely.
The dossier includes salacious details about Trump’s alleged behaviour with prostitutes in Moscow in 2013. It raises the possibility that the Russians had filmed Trump enaged in unsavoury behaviour and could use the recording to blackmail him.
Trump has slammed the dossier as fake and a disgrace.
Comey also said that when Trump said in a later meeting the two discussed an investigation into Michael Flynn, Trump’s first choice to be national security adviser, and his contacts with Russian. Comey said Trump told him, “I hope you can let it go.” hopes I can let it go.”
Comey said he took that as a “direction,” adding it is possibly obstruction of justice.
“I mean, it’s certainly some evidence of obstruction of justice,” he said.
The former FBI director also again said Trump asked for his loyalty as the FBI, but Comey, who was appointed to the job by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, said his loyalty is supposed to be to the American people and to the institution of the FBI.
There was no reaction from Trump after the interview but his pre-emptive tweets made clear his reaction to Comey’s book. He called Comey “slippery” and again described him as a “slime ball.”
Comey’s assertion that Trump demanded loyalty was “another of his many lies.” Trump already attacked Comey on Friday, calling him “a proven LEAKER & LIAR” who should be prosecuted for leaking classified information.
Trump tweeted on Sunday that he “hardly even knew this guy.” He said Comey’s book fails to answer questions about why the Justice Department didn’t prosecute Hillary Clinton for using a private email server while serving as secretary of state.
Comey in the interview stood by the two decisions he made durint the campaign – first not to prosecute and then to re-open the investigation 10 days before the election, only to close it again just a day or two prior to the vote.
“I was trying to be honest and clear with the American people. What she did was really sloppy,” Comey said.
Clinton has asserted that she would have been elected president if Comey hadn’t re-opened the investigation.
Trump fired Comey in May. Immediately afterwards the Justice Department launched the special counsel probe of Russian election meddling.