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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Comey: Trump is 'morally unfit' for office

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Former FBI director James Comey has said Donald Trump is a man "morally unfit to be president", who treats women like "pieces of meat".

Mr Comey was giving his first major television interview since he was was fired by President Trump last year.

He told ABC News that Mr Trump was someone "for whom the truth is not a high value".

Hours before the interview aired, the president went on the offensive, accusing Mr Comey of "many lies".

"I don't buy this stuff about him being mentally incompetent or early stages of dementia," Mr Comey told ABC's 20/20 programme on Sunday night.

"I don't think he's medically unfit to be president. I think he's morally unfit to be president.

"Our president must embody respect and adhere to the values that are at the core of this country. The most important being truth. This president is not able to do that," Mr Comey said.

After the interview aired, Mr Trump's party - via the Republican National Committee - released a statement saying Mr Comey's publicity tour for his new book showed "his true higher loyalty is to himself."

"The only thing worse than Comey's history of misconduct is his willingness to say anything to sell books," it said.

How did we get here?

It is the latest development in a long-standing feud between the two men, further fuelled by the upcoming publication of Mr Comey's memoir A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership.

The ex-FBI chief is on a publicity blitz for the book.

President Trump has said the" badly reviewed book" raises "big questions". He also suggested Mr Comey should be imprisoned, and in recent days began referring to him as a "slimeball".

The story dates back to the 2016 presidential election, when Mr Comey was FBI director. In October, days before the vote, he sent a letter to Congress telling them the FBI was reopening an investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails. The letter went public - and Mrs Clinton says it handed Donald Trump the election.

But once Mr Trump became president, Mr Comey says he tried to extract a pledge of personal loyalty from him - something the president fiercely denies.

In March 2017, when alleged links between Mr Trump's campaign and Russia were being investigated by the FBI, Mr Trump allegedly pressured Mr Comey to publicly declare that the president was not personally being investigated - something the then director says he declined to do.

Some Democrats blamed Mr Comey for costing Mrs Clinton the election, while Trump supporters felt he was targeting the president with the Russia investigation.

He was fired by President Trump in May, finding out about his dismissal from TV news.

What else did Comey say?

In the primetime TV interview, Mr Comey suggested that the president had surrounded himself with people loyal to him - comparing Mr Trump to mob bosses he had investigated as a younger man.

"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," he said.

Asked if those around the president were "enabling bad behaviour", Mr Comey said: "The challenge of this president is that he will stain everyone around him."

Mr Comey, however, said he did not believe President Trump should be impeached.

"I hope not because I think impeaching and removing Donald Trump from office would let the American people off the hook," he said.

Instead, he said, it was something the American people were "duty bound to do directly" at the voting booth.

During the extensive interview, Mr Comey also said:
  • Before revealing the new Clinton investigation, one staff member asked Mr Comey: "Should you consider that what you're about do to may help elect Donald Trump president?"
  • To which Mr Comey said he responded: "Down that path lies the death of the FBI as an independent force"
  • On the Clinton probe: "The FBI drove this investigation and we did it in a competent and independent way. I would bet my life on that"
  • He was a "deeply flawed human surrounded by other flawed humans"
  • Readers of his book "may still walk out of this thinking I'm an idiot, but I'm an honest idiot"

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