Ex-FBI director James Comey eviscerated his former boss President Donald Trump as a serial liar who is “morally unfit to be president,” comparing his leadership style to that of a mob boss and suggesting that he treats women like pieces of meat, according to a transcript of Comey’s highly anticipated interview with ABC News.
Asked if he felt Trump was unfit to be president, Comey replied in the affirmative, but said his reasoning had nothing to do with concerns over Trump’s mental health or stability.
On working with Donald Trump
ABC aired one hour of the interview on Sunday night, but a transcript of the full interview showed Comey painting Trump’s attitude to his staff as similar to that of a mob boss, in that his priorities centred around him and his best interests, rather than that of the country or the greater good.
He compared his experience conversing with Trump to “watching a jigsaw puzzle contest with a shot clock,” stating that Trump has a tendency to speak in monologues, and rapidly switch from one topic to the next without giving anyone a chance to interject or state their disagreement.
Comey also discussed the challenges one faces while working for Trump whilst disagreeing with his actions and behaviour.
“The challenge of this president is that he will stain everyone around him. And the question is, how much stain is too much stain, and how much stain eventually makes you unable to accomplish your goal of protecting the country and serving the country?” he said.
“It would be hard for anybody to answer that… everyone’s gotta answer that individually.”
Russian election meddling
Asked whether he thought Russia holds sway over Trump, Comey said he didn’t know for sure, but wouldn’t rule it out.
“I think it’s possible. I don’t know,” he said. “These are more words I never thought I’d utter about a president of the United States, but it’s possible.
On the question of Trump campaign figures colluding with the Russians, Comey said, “There’s no doubt there was smoke around that. Whether there’s fire… I didn’t stay long enough to know.”
Comey was fired by Trump on May 9, 2017.
Hillary Clinton email investigation
Comey also addressed Democrats’ criticism of his decision to reveal the existence of the Hillary Clinton email probe to the public, while not doing the same with the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia.
He justified disclosing the Clinton probe — which looked into her use of a private email server to send classified emails — to the public on the grounds that the revelation didn’t stand to impact the investigation.
“Everybody knew we were looking at her emails. So when we confirmed it three months later, there’s no jeopardy at all to the investigation,” Comey said.
He added that the Russia investigation was different in that he didn’t want key figures of interest to know that the FBI was investigating them.
“We did not want these Americans to know that we had reason to believe they might be working with the Russians ’cause we gotta run this down and investigate it.”
‘He looked orange up close’
Comey even discussed his first impressions of Trump’s physical appearance, confirming that his tie was too long, his hands were average-sized (as opposed to unusually small, as has been rumoured) and he “looked slightly orange up close with small white half-moons under his eyes, which I assume are from tanning goggles.”
The airing of the ABC interview was preceded by a slew of tweets from Trump earlier Sunday, in which he called Comey a “slimeball” and “the WORST FBI Director in history.”
The interview is the first of a series of scheduled media appearances by Comey to promote his book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday that the book contains “the blatant lies of a self-admitted leaker,” and belongs in the “bargain bin of the fiction section.”