Trump fires back af­ter Comey’s ‘un­fit’ re­mark

EX-FBI CHIEF IS GUILTY OF MANY CRIMES, US PRES­I­DENT SAYS

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Don­ald Trump fired back yes­ter­day at James Comey, say­ing he is guilty of “many crimes,” as the for­mer FBI direc­tor opened a book tour with an in­ter­view in which he la­belled the US pres­i­dent “morally un­fit” for of­fice.

Trump ac­cused Comey of ly­ing to Congress and ex­on­er­at­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton in a 2016 in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­cause of her strong poll numbers in the pres­i­den­tial race.

“Comey drafted the Crooked Hil­lary ex­on­er­a­tion long be­fore he talked to her [lied in Congress to Se­na­tor G],” Trump fired in an early morn­ing tweet.

“Then based his de­ci­sions on her poll numbers. Dis­grun­tled, he, [for­mer FBI deputy direc­tor An­drew] McCabe, and the oth­ers, com­mit­ted many crimes!”

Late Sun­day, Comey launched a pub­lic­ity tour for his mem­oir, A Higher Loy­alty: Truth, Lies and Lead­er­ship, with an ABC tele­vi­sion in­ter­view in which he branded Trump a se­rial liar who will “stain every­one around him.”

Comey’s book, which leaked out last week ahead of its of­fi­cial re­lease today, takes on the pres­i­dent who fired him in May 2017 over the trou­bling Rus­sia elec­tion med­dling in­ves­ti­ga­tion, a probe that poses a deep threat to Trump’s 15-month-old pres­i­dency. Comey is sched­uled to give in­ter­views on the book to ma­jor tele­vi­sion net­works this week and travel to a dozen ci­ties to pro­mote the book in per­son.

“I think he’s morally un­fit to be pres­i­dent,” Comey told ABC. Trump “talks about and treats women like they’re pieces of meat” and “lies con­stantly about mat­ters big and small and in­sists the Amer­i­can peo­ple be­lieve it.”

Comey also said that serv­ing in Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion poses a se­ri­ous eth­i­cal dilemma.

“The chal­lenge of this pres­i­dent is that he will stain every­one around him,” he told ABC.

“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?”

The ver­bal war be­tween for­mer FBI Direc­tor James B. Comey and the pres­i­dent who fired him took a dra­matic es­ca­la­tion Sun­day, as Comey de­nounced Pres­i­dent Trump as “morally un­fit” and a “stain” on those around him and Trump sug­gested the for­mer FBI chief should be im­pris­oned.

In an ex­tra­or­di­nary in­ter­view with ABC, Comey called Trump a ha­bit­ual liar, likened the pres­i­dent to a mob boss and said he thinks it is pos­si­ble that the pres­i­dent is in fact com­pro­mised by Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence. The in­ter­view is the first Comey has given since his fir­ing by Trump last May, and it comes dur­ing a pub­lic­ity blitz for his book, A Higher Loy­alty: Truth, Lies and Lead­er­ship, which is sched­uled for re­lease today and is al­ready a best-seller. Though the in­ter­view added few new facts to what Comey said in con­gres­sional tes­ti­mony last year, it was strik­ing for the de­tail of his rec­ol­lec­tions and his rough lan­guage about the pres­i­dent. Here are some key points:

The role of Rus­sia

Asked in the in­ter­view whether he thought Rus­sia “has some­thing” on Trump, Comey said: “I think it’s pos­si­ble. 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,” he told the in­ter­viewer, ABC an­chor Ge­orge Stephanopou­los. “It is stun­ning” that the pos­si­bil­ity can’t be ruled out, “and I wish I wasn’t say­ing it, but it’s just — it’s the truth,” he said.

Comey said Trump asked him to in­ves­ti­gate and dis­prove al­le­ga­tions con­tained in the so­called Steele dossier — a col­lec­tion of al­le­ga­tions com­piled in 2016 by Christo­pher Steele, a for­mer Bri­tish in­tel­li­gence agent work­ing for Trump’s po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents. The dossier’s cen­tral al­le­ga­tion was that Rus­sia was try­ing to in­ter­fere with the US elec­tion and as­sist Trump. The FBI had been re­view­ing it be­cause it cor­rob­o­rated “to­tally sep­a­rate in­for­ma­tion” that fed­eral agents al­ready had gath­ered, Comey said.

“It was com­ing from a cred­i­ble source, some­one with a track record, some­one who was a cred­i­ble and re­spected mem­ber of an al­lied in­tel­li­gence ser­vice dur­ing his ca­reer. And so it was im­por­tant that we try to un­der­stand it, and see what could we ver­ify,” he said. Trump, how­ever, was fo­cused on one par­tic­u­lar part of the dossier — the al­le­ga­tion that he had been com­pro­mised by Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence by con­sort­ing with pros­ti­tutes in a Moscow ho­tel in 2013.

Is Trump fit enough?

Asked about Trump’s men­tal con­di­tion, Comey said: “I don’t think he’s med­i­cally un­fit to be pres­i­dent. I think he’s morally un­fit to be pres­i­dent.”

He likened Trump to a “forest fire” that threat­ens the norms of Amer­i­can democ­racy. “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,” Comey said. “The chal­lenge of this pres­i­dent is that he will stain every­one around him.”

How did Trump re­act?

The in­ter­view is cer­tain to es­ca­late the pres­i­dent’s anger, which al­ready had reached a high pitch Sun­day, with a vi­cious se­ries of tweets at­tack­ing the for­mer FBI chief as “slip­pery” and a “slime­ball.” Trump claimed that he “hardly even knew this guy.” He ap­peared to call for Comey’s im­pris­on­ment, declar­ing that Comey’s book did not ex­plain why he “gave up Clas­si­fied In­for­ma­tion (jail), why did he lie to Congress (jail).” Trump of­fered no ev­i­dence that Comey has com­mit­ted ei­ther of those of­fences.

An ob­sessed pres­i­dent

In the in­ter­view, as in the book, Comey de­scribed Trump as ob­sessed with his own rep­u­ta­tion — in­clud­ing al­le­ga­tions in­volv­ing Moscow pros­ti­tutes — and un­con­cerned with coun­ter­ing at­tacks from Rus­sia. He also re­peated his book’s de­scrip­tion of Trump as “un­teth­ered” to truth­ful­ness and its state­ment that Trump’s White House style re­minded him of the mob. “The loy­alty oaths, the boss as the dom­i­nant cen­tre of ev­ery­thing — it’s all about how do you serve the boss, what’s in the boss’ in­ter­ests. It’s the fam­ily, the fam­ily, the fam­ily, the fam­ily.” When he first briefed Trump

about the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Comey said, no one brought up how to stop the threat — only how to man­age the pub­lic re­la­tions re­sponse. “No one, to my rec­ol­lec­tion, asked, ‘So what — what’s com­ing next from the Rus­sians?’” he said.

The Clin­ton files

Democrats have also been an­gered by some of Comey’s con­duct. Eleven days be­fore the elec­tion, Comey de­parted from long-stand­ing Jus­tice Depart­ment pro­to­col and sent a let­ter to Congress say­ing that the FBI had re­opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Hil­lary Clin­ton’s use of a pri­vate server to han­dle her emails. Clin­ton and her al­lies have said Comey’s ac­tions helped cost her the elec­tion. Dur­ing the in­ter­view, Comey ac­knowl­edged that at the time, he was con­vinced Clin­ton would win, and that be­lief prob­a­bly in­flu­enced his de­ci­sion to write the let­ters.

“I don’t re­mem­ber con­sciously think­ing about that, but it must have been be­cause I was op­er­at­ing in a world where Hil­lary Clin­ton was go­ing to beat Don­ald Trump, and so I’m sure that it was a fac­tor,” Comey said. “I don’t re­mem­ber spell­ing it out, but it had to have been that she’s go­ing to be elected pres­i­dent, and if I hide this from the Amer­i­can peo­ple, she’ll be il­le­git­i­mate the mo­ment she’s elected, the mo­ment this comes out,” he added.

Was Comey ar­ro­gant?

Comey has come un­der rough crit­i­cism for his han­dling of the Clin­ton email case from both Democrats and Repub­li­cans, who say his de­ci­sion to write the let­ters — and to go around his boss, then-At­tor­ney Gen­eral Loretta Lynch — pro­vided ev­i­dence of a fa­tal ar­ro­gance.

Comey said that he hoped he had made the right de­ci­sion but that he could be wrong.

“And so I think that’s my pri­mary worry about my­self, is an over­con­fi­dence that can lead to that — that pride, that closed-mind­ed­ness,” he said.

JAMES B. COMEY

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