President Donald Trump on Sunday morning attacked former FBI Director James Comey for saying his belief that Hillary Clinton would win the 2016 presidential election played a role in the way he handled the investigation into her use of a private email server as secretary of state.
“Unbelievably, James Comey states that Polls, where Crooked Hillary was leading, were a factor in the handling (stupidly) of the Clinton Email probe,” Trump wrote. “In other words, he was making decisions based on the fact that he thought she was going to win, and he wanted a job. Slimeball!”
Trump’s rebuke comes in advance of Comey’s highly anticipated ABC News interview airing Sunday night to kick of a publicity tour for his new book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership” – his first televised sit-down interview since he was fired by the President last year. CNN’s Jake Tapper is set to interview Comey on April 19. CNN’s Anderson Cooper will host a town hall with Comey on April 25.
Comey offers a scathing and unsparingly critical depiction of the President in the book, writing that Trump is “unethical and untethered to the truth” and comparing his presidency to a “forest fire.”
Comey announced in July 2016 that he would not recommend charges in the investigation of Clinton’s email practices. But in a controversial move, Comey told Congress just days before the election that the FBI was reviewing additional emails in relation to the investigation. In early November, Comey then informed lawmakers that those emails did not warrant any further action.
In a clip released Saturday by ABC News, George Stephanopoulos asks Comey about his motivations in revealing that information to Congress.
“Wasn’t the decision to reveal influenced by your assumption that Hillary Clinton was going to win, and your concern that, she wins, this comes out several weeks later and then that’s taken by her opponents as a sign that she’s an illegitimate president?” Stephanopoulos asks.
“It must have been,” Comey responds, adding, “I don’t remember consciously thinking about that, but it must have been. I was operating in a world where Hillary Clinton was going to beat Donald Trump. I’m sure that it was a factor. I don’t remember spelling it out, but it had to have been. That she’s going to be elected president, and if I hide this from the American people, she’ll be illegitimate the moment she’s elected, the moment this comes out.”
In his book, “A Higher Loyalty,” Comey expresses a similar sentiment, writing, “It is entirely possible that, because I was making decisions in an environment where Hillary Clinton was sure to be the next president, my concern about making her an illegitimate president by concealing the restarted investigation bore greater weight than it would have if the election appeared closer or if Donald Trump were ahead in all polls.”
Clinton herself has cited Comey’s handling of the email probe as a reason she lost the election.
On Sunday, Trump also repeated his denial that he asked former FBI Director James Comey for “personal loyalty,” as Comey claims.
“I never asked Comey for Personal Loyalty,” Trump wrote. “I hardly even knew this guy. Just another of his many lies. His “memos” are self serving and FAKE!”
Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee last June that Trump made the request at a dinner together after Trump took office. Comey also writes about the meeting in his book.
On Sunday, Trump continued to tweet attacks against frequent targets of his ire: “The big questions in Comey’s badly reviewed book aren’t answered like, how come he gave up Classified Information (jail), why did he lie to Congress (jail), why did the DNC refuse to give Server to the FBI (why didn’t they TAKE it), why the phony memos, McCabe’s $700,000 & more?”
On the last point, Trump is referring to the unsuccessful 2015 Virginia state Senate race of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s wife, Jill. A PAC affiliated with then-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, moved almost $500,000 to her campaign.
Trump also harped on Comey’s criticism of Obama administration Attorney General Loretta Lynch. In one section of his book, Comey describes Lynch as having a “tortured, half-out, half-in approach” to the Clinton email investigation, for which he was excoriated by Democrats.
“Comey throws AG Lynch “under the bus!” Trump wrote. “Why can’t we all find out what happened on the tarmac in the back of the plane with Wild Bill and Lynch? Was she promised a Supreme Court seat, or AG, in order to lay off Hillary. No golf and grandkids talk (give us all a break)!”
Trump was referencing a meeting that took place between Lynch and former President Bill Clinton in 2016 ahead of the public release of the House Benghazi Committee’s report on the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Libya. An aide to the former president said Lynch and Clinton met privately after the two realized they were on the same tarmac in Phoenix. The meeting raised questions about the independence of the Justice Department in handling the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
Trump, in his fifth tweet about Comey Sunday morning, also 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!”