If you thought the disdain between Donald Trump and former FBI director James Comey would fizzle away, Sunday surely allayed any prospect of a truce.
Ahead of the launch of his autobiography A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, Comey appeared on ABC’s 20/20, in his first televised interview since being fired as director of the FBI.
In the five-hour interview with anchor George Stephanopoulos — it has been transcribed online, if you’re truly keen — Comey took aim at the president and responded to criticism of his handling of the Clinton email investigation.
“I think he’s morally unfit to be president.”
Comey said he doesn’t “buy” into speculation that Trump is “medically unfit” to be president, but rather condemned the president’s ethics largely due to his handling of Charlottesville and, as Comey put it, his treatment of women “like they’re pieces of meat.”
“He strikes me as a person of above average intelligence who’s tracking conversations and knows what’s going on. I don’t think he’s medically unfit to be president. I think he’s morally unfit to be president,” Comey said.
He later added that a Trump impeachment would let the American people “off the hook,” stressing that he believes the president doesn’t represent American values.
“People in this country need to stand up and go to the voting booth and vote their values,” he said.
On Russian meddling and the alleged pee tape
Comey also discussed the first time he met the newly elected Trump in person in Jan. 2017 to talk about the allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.
After confirming the FBI found no manipulation of vote count, Comey said he was surprised when the briefing turned to a “PR conversation.”
Comey also discussed the briefing of Trump’s alleged pee tape, describing the meeting with the president over the matter as “really weird” and like an “out of body experience.”
“I did not go into the business about people peeing on each other,” he said. “I just thought it was a weird enough experience for me to be talking to the incoming president of the United States about prostitutes in a hotel in Moscow.
“And so I left that part out. I thought I’d given enough to put him on notice as to what the essence of the material was.”
Comey added that he thinks its “possible” Russia has compromising material on Trump, albeit “unlikely.”
On Clinton’s email investigation
Comey also reflected on the controversy over Hillary Clinton’s personal email account. It’s a matter on which he has been criticized by Trump, regarding the FBI’s handling of the investigation.
Unbelievably, James Comey states that Polls, where Crooked Hillary was leading, were a factor in the handling (stupidly) of the Clinton Email probe. In other words, he was making decisions based on the fact that he thought she was going to win, and he wanted a job. Slimeball!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2018
The former FBI director said he still would’ve sent the letter reopening the investigation into the emails before the 2016 election, even though Clinton and her team blamed it for her loss.
In response to the criticism, Comey said he “hoped” the letter didn’t stifle her campaign. “It was important to tell the email story because it’s me trying to figure out how to lead well,” he said.
“That people will read that story and try to put themselves in my shoes. Try to realize that I’m not trying to help a candidate or hurt a candidate; I’m trying to do the right thing.”