×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

James Comey, in ABC News Interview, Calls Donald Trump ‘Morally Unfit’ for Presidency

WASHINGTON — James Comey, in his first interview tied to the release of his new book “A Higher Loyalty,” told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that Donald Trump was “morally unfit to be president.”

“There’s something more important than that that should unite all of us, and that is our president must embody respect and adhere to the values that are at the core of this country,” Comey said, according to a transcript of the interview posted on the ABC News website. “The most important being truth. This president is not able to do that. He is morally unfit to be president.”

He said he did not think that Trump suffered from dementia or some medical malady, but said his fitness is displayed by his lies and response to situations, like the white supremacist marches in Charlottesville last August.

He also made some comparisons of Trump’s style of leadership to that of the mob bosses he pursued as a federal prosecutor. ABC News broadcast one hour of the five-hour sitdown as part of its “20/20” newsmagazine, which will be the first interview in a media blitz to promote the book.

Other highlights:

Hillary Clinton email investigation. Comey defended his decision, just 11 days before the election, to reopen the probe of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. He said it “sucked” and that it was a “no-win situation,” but that he would make the same decision again, even if he knew that it meant Trump would be elected.

Women’s March. Comey said his wife and daughters took part in the Women’s March in Washington the day after Trump’s inauguration. He said his wife voted for Clinton and was “devastated” when she lost. He didn’t vote.

The ‘Loyalty’ Dinner. Comey accepted an unusual invitation from Trump to attend a private dinner at the White House on Jan. 27, where he said the president asked for his loyalty. He said, ‘I expect loyalty. I need loyalty.'” Comey said he answered, “You will get honesty from me.” But that was insufficient for Trump. Comey said he eventually agreed to offer “honest loyalty,” something he admitted may have been a mistake.

‘Let It Go.’ Comey testified before Congress about a White House meeting in which Trump asked about the FBI’s investigation of his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. When Trump used the term “let it go,” Comey said he took it as “direction” to drop the criminal probe.

Asked in the interview whether Trump was obstructing justice, Comey said, “Possibly. It’s certainly some evidence of obstruction of justice.”

You’re fired. Comey was addressing employees at the FBI’s Los Angeles field office in May 2017, when he looked up at the TV and saw the reports that he had been fired.

He said he “did not expect to be fired,” and he was a “bit numb” at the time.

“I thought, ‘It’s crazy to fire me. I’m leading the investigation of Russian influence and particularly whether … anyone in the Trump orbit had coordinated and conspired with the Russians.”

His memos. Comey said he gave memos of his interactions with Trump to a friend to read to a reporter from The New York Times. That led to a flurry of stories, including Trump’s request that Comey “let” the Flynn investigation go. Why didn’t Comey just go to the media directly? He said, at the time, multiple media outlets were staked out at his home, and had he given them to one outlet, he would be excluding others.

Russian influence. Comey said he couldn’t say for sure that the Russians didn’t have something on Trump.

“I cannot say that. It always struck me and still strikes me as unlikely, and I would have been able to say with a high confidence about any other president I dealt with, but I can’t. It’s possible.”

The hair. Comey said in his first meeting with Trump, he thought 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.'”

Excerpts of Comey’s book leaked out last week, indicating that it would be a blistering critique of Trump, who fired him as FBI director in 2017, setting off a chain of events that led to the appointment of a special counsel, Robert Mueller, to investigate potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Some of the more salacious details of his book were published, including his recounting of having to brief Trump on the contents of the “Steele dossier” weeks before he took office.

“I honestly never thought this words would come out of my mouth, but I don’t know whether the– the– current president of the United States was with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow in 2013,” he said. “It’s possible, but I don’t know.”

Trump began responding on Twitter as stories came out about the book last week. He referred to the former FBI director as a “slime ball.”

On Sunday, Trump wrote, “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 also challenged one of Comey’s stories, that he asked him for his personal loyalty.

“I never asked Comey for Personal Loyalty. I hardly even knew this guy. Just another of his many lies. His ‘memos’ are self-serving and FAKE!”

POPULAR VIDEO ON VARIETY

More Politics

  • Maxine Waters

    Maxine Waters Reacts to Jussie Smollett Arrest: 'I Would Be Disappointed' if It's a Hoax

    Maxine Waters said she “would be disappointed” if it’s proven that her friend Jussie Smollett staged his own attack. Speaking with Variety‘s Marc Malkin on Thursday at Essence’s Black Women in Hollywood Awards, the U.S. representative from California said, “If in fact it’s a hoax, of course I would be disappointed.” Smollett faces one felony [...]

  • Roger Stone, longtime advisor to President

    Judge Bars Roger Stone From Talking Publicly About Russia Investigation

    WASHINGTON — Roger Stone was prohibited from commenting any about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation — including the charges that he faces. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson placed new restrictions on Stone after he posted a picture of her on Instagram earlier this week that featured a photo of her and of a [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Celebrities, Politicians React to Jussie Smollett Arrest: 'This Story Is Pathetic'

    Following the arrest of Jussie Smollett on Thursday, with the “Empire” star facing charges of filing a false police report and disorderly conduct after allegedly staging an attack, celebrities and politicians were quick to weigh in on social media. President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday morning, “What about MAGA and the tens of millions of people [...]

  • Donald Trump

    Trump Calls Out Jussie Smollett Over 'Racist and Dangerous Comments'

    President Donald Trump weighed in on the arrest of Jussie Smollett Thursday, calling out the actor for “racist and dangerous comments.” The “Empire” actor was taken into police custody Thursday morning on a charge of filing a false police report and disorderly conduct. During a press conference shortly after his arrest, Chicago police said Smollett [...]

  • 60 Minutes" reporter Lara Logan takes

    Lara Logan Says She's Been 'Targeted' for Her Claims of Liberal Media Bias

    Former CBS News foreign correspondent Lara Logan appeared on “Hannity” Wednesday evening to expand on her recent remarks characterizing the media as “mostly liberal.” “It’s obvious, right, because you get targeted,” she said, explaining her earlier comments that she was committing “professional suicide” by criticizing the media. “It’s the same group of people, they’re already [...]

  • A Man Walks Into the Cnn

    CNN Seeks 'Both Sides' Balance but Spurs Criticism From All Sides (Analysis)

    In a time when news viewers are splintering around partisan leanings, CNN is proving to be a uniter, not a divider: people from both sides of the political aisle are eager to criticize its business decisions and news coverage. The one-time plain vanilla network can’t win for losing as it tries to achieve an elusive [...]

  • J.J. Abrams and Katie McGrathVanity Fair

    J.J. Abrams, Katie McGrath to Host Fundraiser for Kamala Harris

    UPDATED Kamala Harris, continuing to draw support from high-profile Hollywood donors, will headline a fundraiser in Los Angeles next month at the Pacific Palisades home of J.J. Abrams and his wife, producer Katie McGrath. The March 20 event, an evening reception, is priced at $2,800 per person, with those who write and raise $10,000 listed [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content