White House Launches Pre-Emptive Blows Against Comey
Ahead of ABC interview and book release, president and WH press secretary target controversial former FBI director
President Donald Trump launched five tweets blasting former FBI Director James Comey on Sunday, while White House press secretary Sarah Sanders argued the fired director has no credibility.
It was part of a pre-emptive strike against Comey, whose interview with ABC News will air Sunday night ahead of this week’s release of his book.
Excerpts of the book, “A Higher Loyalty,” criticized Trump on everything from his conduct in office to his hand size.
Trump on Twitter lambasted Comey for throwing former Attorney General Loretta Lynch “under the bus,” and the president denied asking Comey for a pledge of personal loyalty.
"Slippery James Comey, a man who always ends up badly and out of whack (he is not smart!), will go down as the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!" he wrote in one tweet.
Trump blasted Comey for acknowledging that polls during the 2016 campaign influenced his decision — 11 days before Election Day — to reopen a closed criminal investigation of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's handling of classified emails as secretary of state.
"The big questions in Comey's badly reviewed book aren't answered like, how come he gave up Classified Information (jail), why did he lie to Congress (jail), why did the DNC refuse to give Server to the FBI (why didn't they TAKE it), why the phony memos, McCabe's $700,000 & more?" he tweeted.
On "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Sanders called Comey a "self-admitted leaker" who lied to Congress. She characterized Comey as a calculating figure who viewed law enforcement and the Clinton investigation through the prism of politics.
"He thought that Hillary Clinton would win. And he thought that this would give him some cover," she said.
Sanders said she is not aware of a specific request by White House for the Department of Justice to investigate Comey, as Trump seemed to suggest in his tweet.
"But I do think if they feel there was any wrongdoing, they should certainly look into that, just as they do on a number of other topics," she said.
Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) ripped Comey and his book.
"I hold prosecutors and law enforcement officials to a higher standard, so I think the book is sad," he said. "Let's not kid ourselves. Jim Comey now has complained that President Trump is untethered from the truth. He'd still be FBI director if he had his way. So all of the complaints he had about President Trump, he was willing to put those aside so he could keep his job. The reason he wrote his book is because he got fired."
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking minority member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told Stephanopoulos that Comey erred in violating Department of Justice policy by releasing a letter reopening the Clinton probe. He suggested that Comey did so for the same reason then-President Barack Obama did not hit back harder at Russian election interference — because they feared it would play into Trump's narrative of a rigged election.
And neither thought Trump would win, Schiff added.
"Both the Obama administration and James Comey made a similar mistake in presuming the outcome," he said.
Schiff also insisted that the question of whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russian agents is still open. He noted that special counsel Robert Mueller has not brought any indictments accusing Russians of hacking in to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's iPhone and the Democratic National Committee.
"That indictment is coming, George," he said. "It's just a question of whether that indictment includes U.S. persons or not."
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told Stephanopoulos that she believes Comey is credible, but she added that she was troubled when he admitted last year that he had leaked his own memos critical of the president.
"What's disturbing about that is his leak of those documents violated the FBI's own guidelines, which he, himself, helped to write," she said.
Collins noted that Comey's first rules violation was not that or sending a letter to Congress announcing he was reopening the email case. It was holding a news conference that summer to announce that there would be no charges against Clinton.
"That's not an appropriate role for the FBI director, and it seems to me that unfortunately, Mr. Comey stopped making investigative judgments and instead was making political assessments," she said.