James Comey has a lot to say about Donald Trump — and none of it is good.
In his prime-time interview with ABC News and in his book, “A Higher Loyalty,” the former FBI director unloads on the president as “morally unfit” for office as he plows into a laundry list of political flashpoints from the 2016 election campaign and the early months of the Trump administration.
A few key takeaways from Comey’s interview and his book, set for release Tuesday:
‘MAFIA’ BOSS TRUMP THEATENS THE NATION
To Comey, Trump is everything a president shouldn’t be. And he’s not mincing words.
In his book, Comey repeatedly compares Trump’s behavior to a New York mafia don. He calls him “untethered to truth,” ″unethical” and a “forest fire” burning through the foundation of American democracy, norms and values. “Donald Trump’s presidency threatens much of what is good in this nation,” Comey writes.
He went even further in the ABC interview with anchor George Stephanopoulos.
“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.
TRUMP, RUSSIAN PROSTITUTES AND THE MUELLER INVESTIGATION
Much of Comey’s version of his interactions with Trump regarding Russia came out during his congressional testimony last year. But the book and his interview reveal some telling details.
Comey says Trump seemed fixated on an allegation made in a dossier compiled by a former British spy — and funded by Trump’s political opponents— involving Russian prostitutes urinating on a bed in a Moscow hotel. The president brought up the allegation multiple times, Comey writes, including an unprompted denial: “I’m a germaphobe. There’s no way I would let people pee on each other around me. No way,” Comey quotes the president as saying.
Comey also writes that Trump considered asking the FBI to debunk the allegation to reassure his wife, Melania Trump.
Prostitutes aside, Comey says the president and his team were much less concerned about the national security threat of Russian election meddling.
“They were about to lead a country that had been attacked by a foreign adversary, yet they had no questions about what the future Russian threat might be,” Comey writes. Instead, they launched into a strategy session about how to “spin what we’d just told them” for the public, he writes.
Comey largely avoids talking about the Mueller investigation in detail. But he told ABC News that he believes there’s evidence that the president obstructed justice and says he can’t rule out that the Russians have compromising information on Trump.
“It’s possible,” Comey said.
Trump calls people names — Lyin’ Comey comes to mind— but Comey’s not above needling the president where it hurts.
In his book, Comey takes direct aim at Trump’s appearance, a particularly sensitive topic for the president.
A large man at 6-foot-8, Comey notes that he checked the president’s hand size: It was “smaller than mine but did not seem unusually so.” He also describes the president as shorter than he expected, his tie was “too long,” and he had “bright white half-moons” under his eyes that Comey says he believes came from tanning goggles.
In the ABC interview, he does give Trump some credit, though.
“He had impressively coiffed hair, it looks to be all his. I confess, I stared at it pretty closely and my reaction was, ‘It must take a heck of a lot of time in the morning, but it’s impressively coiffed,’” Comey said.
OWNS THE LEAKER TAG
Trump has lashed out as Comey repeatedly as a “leaker” for providing unclassified memos to an intermediary to give to The New York Times.
“It’s true,” Comey told ABC News. But he defends what he did as “entirely appropriate,” noting the memos were unclassified.
“My reaction was, ‘I’m going to get the information out.’ I know the information is true and if I’m ever asked about it, of course I’ll tell the truth about it,” Comey said.
DOESN’T WANT IMPEACHMENT
As much as he criticizes Trump, Comey doesn’t want him impeached.
“I think impeaching and removing Donald Trump from office would let the American people off the hook,” Comey said in the ABC interview, adding: “People in this country need to stand up and go to the voting booth and vote their values.”
Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report.
Source: Associated Press