It was Sunday night’s most highly anticipated TV event — no, not The Walking Dead finale, but George Stephanopoulos’ sit-down with former Federal Bureau of Investigations director James Comey.
The conversation, filmed earlier this week, marked Comey’s first TV interview since being fired by President Donald Trump in May 2017, and comes just days before the release of Comey’s memoir, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership. In leaked excerpts from the book, Comey likens Trump to a “mob boss” and compares his presidency to a “forest fire,” according to The Washington Post.
Trump has already responded to previously released interview clips on — where else? — Twitter, referring to Comey as an “untruthful slime ball” that “will go down as the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also weighed in, referring to the memoir as “nothing more than a poorly executed PR stunt by Comey to desperately rehabilitate his tattered reputation and enrich his own bank account by peddling a book that belongs in the bargain bin of the fiction section.”
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So what exactly did Comey say about POTUS? Keep reading for all the highlights…
* On Jan. 6, 2017, during his first meeting with the president-elect, Trump asked Comey to investigate the Steele dossier and prove that the alleged “pee tape,” which is said to feature him involved in an obscene sexual act with Russian sex workers, does not, in fact, exist. Comey described the conversation as an “out-of body experience… I was floating above myself, looking down, saying, ‘You’re sitting here, briefing the incoming president of the United States about prostitutes in Moscow.'”
* On Jan. 27, 2017, Comey agreed to join Trump for dinner at the White House. He accepted, unaware that it was a dinner for two. During the meal, per Comey, Trump said that he not only expected loyalty, but needed loyalty from his FBI director. Comey didn’t answer. Trump asked a second time, then Comey said he replied, saying, “You will always get honesty from me.” But that wasn’t good enough for POTUS. He asked again, this time for “honest loyalty,” and Comey ultimately compromised, saying, “You’ll get that from me.”
* On Feb. 14, 2017, Comey was back at the White House for a counter terrorism briefing. At the end of the briefing, Trump told everyone — including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Vice President Mike Pence — to leave the room so he could speak privately with Comey. According to Comey, Trump then asked about ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had lied about his contact with the Russians. Trump apparently said, “He’s a good guy. I hope you can let it go,” in reference to the ongoing criminal investigation. At this point, Stephanopoulos asked Comey, “Was President Trump obstructing justice?” to which he replied, “Possibly. I mean, it’s certainly some evidence of obstruction of justice.”
* On his reaction to being fired by President Trump: “I thought, ‘It’s crazy to fire me,'” Comey said. “I’m leading the investigation of Russian influence and particularly whether anyone in the Trump orbit had coordinated and conspired with the Russians. That makes no sense at all.”
* As for his reaction to Trump meeting with the Russian foreign minister in the Oval Office just one day after his firing? “‘Wow’ was my reaction,” Comey said. “‘What are the Russians doing in the Oval Office?’ 1) As a counter intelligence person, I’m thinking, ‘That’s crazy without any Americans being present’; and 2) ‘The pretense is melting away.’ … I was fired because of the Russia investigation.”
* Asked what it would mean if Trump fired Special Counsel Robert Mueller: “It would, I hope, set off alarm bells that this is his most serious attack yet on the rule of law,” Comey said. “And it would be something that our entire country — again, Democrats and Republicans — that is higher than all the normal fights about policy… and it would be to the everlasting shame of partisans if they were unable to see that higher level and to protect it.”
* Asked if he thinks the Russians have something on Trump: “I think it’s possible,” he said. “I don’t know. These are more words I never thought I’d utter about a president of the United States, but it’s possible… It is stunning, and I wish I wasn’t saying it, but it’s just— it’s the truth. It always struck me and still strikes me as unlikely, and I would’ve been able to say with high confidence about any other president I dealt with, but I can’t. It’s possible.”
* When asked if Trump is unfit to be president, Comey answered, “Yes. But not in the way I often hear people talk about it. I don’t buy this stuff about him being mentally incompetent or early stages of dementia. 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. 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.”
For a full, unedited transcript of the interview, click here.
Watch select excerpts below: