Former FBI Director James Comey penned an op-ed in The New York Times saying President Donald Trump’s appointees sometimes make “compromises” to survive their boss.
In the piece published Wednesday, Comey wrote people had asked him “what happened” to people like Attorney General William Barr, whom Comey previously said deserved “the benefit of the doubt” ahead of the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. The op-ed was published on the same day Barr was grilled during a Senate hearing about his handling of the Mueller report.
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“Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive Mr. Trump and that adds up to something they will never recover from,” Comey wrote in the Times. “It takes character like (former Secretary of Defense James) Mattis’s to avoid the damage, because Mr. Trump eats your soul in small bites.”
Comey, whom Trump fired early into his presidency, said such compromises began with officials “sitting silent while he (Trump) lies, both in public and private, making you complicit by your silence.” Comey continued to say the “private circle of assent” moves to “public displays of personal fealty,” making an implicit reference to a Cabinet meeting where department heads praised Trump at length.
Comey said staying on in the administration required “further compromises” where “you use his language, praise his leadership, tout his commitment to values.”
“And then you are lost. He has eaten your soul,” Comey wrote of Trump officials.