By Tom Mccarthy on theguardian.com
Apr 15 2018
James Comey has accused Donald Trump of being “morally unfit” to be president and treating women like “meat” in his first television interview in support of his new book, A Higher Loyalty.
Comey further described Trump as a “stain” on everyone who worked for him, according to a transcript of a five-hour interview published by ABC and first obtained by the New York Times.
Yet Comey said he does not wish for Trump’s impeachment because that “would let the American people off the hook.”
“People in this country need to stand up and go to the voting booth and vote their values,” Comey said. “And impeachment in a way would short-circuit that.”
A one-hour edited version of the interview with George Stephanopolous aired on ABC News on Sunday night.
“Our president must embody respect and adhere to the values that are at the core of this country,” Comey told Stephanopoulos. “The most important being truth. This president is not able to do that. He is morally unfit to be president.”
Turning first to Trump’s defence of a white supremacists’ march, he said: “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.”
Replying to a question about whether Trump had committed an obstruction of justice, Comey said “it’s possible.”
“There’s certainly some evidence of obstruction of justice,” Comey said. But for the president to follow through on threats to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, Comey said, would “set off alarm bells that this is his most serious attack yet on the rule of law.”
In his book, Comey compares Trump to a mafia don and challenges the president’s character, honesty and commitment to public service.
Sitting in his Virginia living room across from Stephanopolous, Comey answered questions about the Trump team’s response to Russian election tampering, about his handling of the Clinton emails investigation and his personal impressions of the president-elect.
“He had impressively coiffed hair that looks to be all his,” Comey said. “I confess I stared at it pretty closely … He looked slightly orange up close with small white half-moons under his eyes which I assume were from tanning goggles.”
Comey also described the “really weird” Trump Tower meeting in which he briefed the president-elect on the contents of an unverified intelligence document compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, including allegations that Trump had been in a Moscow hotel room in 2013 with urinating Russian prostitutes.
“I did not go into the business about people peeing on each other” in his briefing with Trump, Comey said. “I just wanted to get it done and get out of there.”
It was “unlikely” but “possible” that Russians had material with which to blackmail or otherwise compromise Trump, Comey said. “It is stunning, and I wish I wasn’t saying it, but it’s the truth.”
I did not go into the business about people peeing on each other .. I just wanted to get it done and get out of there
Comey described his reaction to finding out on TV, during a trip to California, that he had been fired less than halfway through his 10-year term.
“That’s crazy,” Comey remembered thinking. “How could that be?” Then Comey got on the FBI plane for the long flight back to Washington.
“I drank red wine from a paper coffee cup and just looked out at the lights of the country I love so much as we flew home.”
The White House did not reply to a query about whether Trump planned to watch the Comey interview, which was taped earlier in the week. Trump did not tweet during the broadcast.Read More