Comey Thinks He’s Treated Trump Fairly

Former FBI Director James Comey told PBS he doesn’t believe people can read his book and think he’s “in a partisan way, trying to attack the president, or that I’ve somehow let the FBI down.”

PBS’s Judy Woodruff asked, “Do you have concerns at this point, in this long public tour, with what is perceived as your very tough critiques of President Trump, whether they’re in the book — you’ve said them in interviews, sharing details of your interactions with him, all this has the effect of making it look as if the FBI has it in for the president of the United States? And this is at a time when Robert Mueller is conducting an investigation. Doesn’t this, in effect, undermine the credibility of the entire bureau and of what the Department of Justice and of what Mr. Mueller is doing?”

Comey replied, “I don’t think so, for two reasons. First, my testimony, if it’s ever needed, has been locked down since last summer, when I testified under oath. And even before that, I wrote detailed memos. So, what I have to say, unless I lose my mind and start making stuff up, has been set in concrete for many, many months.”

“But, more importantly, I would actually turn it around. The president of the United States is attacking the Justice Department and the FBI as partisan organizations, as corrupt. And I think I have a role to play in trying to explain to the American people, that’s nonsense. This organization is not politicized. It’s being politically attacked. And so I think I can do something useful that won’t have any reasonable prospect of hurting the special counsel’s operation.”

Woodruff followed then asked, “But you’ve attacked or criticized him back. You’ve said he’s untethered from the truth. You’ve been very critical of him, not just in the book, but in interviews. And my question is the perception that the man who ran the FBI, was formerly the number two person at the Department of Justice, is so critical of the United States — the president of the United States, how can we trust what anybody associated with the Department of Justice is doing?”

To which Comey replied, “I would hope folks would read the book. Because you’ll see, yes, I’m critical of President Trump. I’m also critical of myself. And I’m trying to tell the truth. And I couldn’t tell the truth about what ethical leadership looks like without telling the truth about Donald Trump being unethical. But again, the facts are sticky and stubborn things. And so I lay out the facts of my encounters with President Trump in the book. I wrote them down at the time. And so I do think they fairly support the characterizations that I’m offering. People can disagree, but I don’t think you can walk away from this saying either that I’m, in a partisan way, trying to attack the president, or that I’ve somehow let the FBI down. I actually see it as the reverse.”