President assails Comey over new book
WASHINGTON — Former FBI Director James Comey and the president who fired him lobbed rhetorical bombs at each other Sunday, keeping up a verbal war that has ratcheted up the tension in the White House even as it has contributed mightily to the advance sales of Comey’s new book.
In an interview broadcast Sunday on ABC, 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 President Donald Trump as “untethered” to truthfulness and its statement that Trump’s White House style reminded him of the mob: “The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth,” he said in the book. Trump, hours before the interview aired, blasted Comey with a series of tweets attacking the former FBI chief as a “slimeball” and “slippery” and claiming that he “hardly knew this guy.”
“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!” the president tweeted.
He appeared to call for Comey’s imprisonment, declaring that Comey’s book, which is scheduled to be released Tuesday, 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 offenses. Comey’s book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership,” offers a withering portrait of Trump, which he described during the hourlong interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.
Comey said that Trump asked him to investigate and disprove allegations contained in the so-called dossier — a collection of allegations compiled by a former British intelligence agent working for Trump’s political opponents. Trump focused repeatedly on an allegation that he had been compromised by Russian intelligence by consorting with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel in 2013.
“He may want me to investigate it to prove that it didn’t happen,” Comey said. “And then he says something that distracted me because he said, you know, ‘If there’s even a 1 percent chance my wife thinks that’s true, that’s terrible.’ ” “And I remember thinking, ‘How could your wife think there’s a 1 percent chance you were with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow?’ I’m a flawed human being, but there is literally zero chance that my wife would think that was true. So, what kind of marriage to what kind of man does your wife think (that) there’s only a 99 percent chance you didn’t do that?”
By contrast with Trump, some other Republicans have tried to stay clear of the debate. On Sunday, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., declined to defend Comey.
“I don’t know him very well,” Ryan said of Comey on NBC News. “I’m not trying to be evasive. But what I don’t want to do is — is join some food fight, some book-selling food fight. I don’t see any value in that.”
Ryan said again that he does not see the need for Congress to pass a law protecting special counsel Robert Mueller in case Trump moves to fire him.
The Republican National Committee has created a “Lyin Comey” website that prominently features attacks on him from Democrats.