5:59pm PT by Patrick Shanley
Stephen Colbert, James Comey Talk About What It's Like "Working for a Mob Boss"
Former FBI director James Comey appeared on CBS' The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on Tuesday night to promote his new autobiography, A Higher Loyalty.
On the subject of being fired last year by President Donald Trump, Comey told Colbert, “I actually was quite surprised because I thought, 'I’m leading the Russia investigation. Even though our relationship is becoming strained, there’s no way I’d be fired ... that's a crazy thing to do.'”
Comey, who was fired by Trump amid the FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, responded to a tweet by the president earlier Tuesday that he should be jailed by calling Trump's statements "not OK" and "not normal."
Noting a passage in Comey’s book that states he “drank Pinot Noir in a plastic cup” while onboard a plane after being fired, Colbert produced two cups and poured himself and the former FBI director a toast. “To the truth,” Colbert offered.
When asked why he wrote the book, Comey said, “After I got fired it occurred to me and my wife [that] it would be useful to people to show what ethical leadership looks like. It would be particularly useful now when our president is not that.”
Colbert was curious if Comey thought Trump could turn his presidency around, to which Comey replied, “I think it would be hard at this point; he doesn’t seem to have reference points in his life … as far as I can tell his reference point is entirely internal: 'What will fill the hole in me and get me the affirmation I need?'”
Comey, who prosecuted mafia members in his former career, noted the similarities between Trump and mob leaders he worked to bring down. “The leadership style is strikingly similar,” Comey said. “When I first thought that I pushed it away because it seemed too dramatic, but what I mean is that the way he leads is that it’s all about the boss.”
When Colbert asked Comey if there are "things that you know about the Russian investigation … that we haven’t learned yet," the former FBI director was quick to respond with a simple "Yes."
When asked for specifics, Comey was equally monosyllabic, this time in the negative. He expanded, saying, “I had to have my book reviewed by the FBI to make sure it didn’t include classified information or any sensitive investigative information, so it's not in the book and I can’t talk about it.” Colbert then insisted Comey have “some more wine,” seemingly to loosen his tongue.
While Trump has tweeted about Comey a number of times in recent weeks, Comey says he just “shrugs” it off. “He’s tweeted at me at least 15 times. I’m like a breakup he can’t get over.” He then emphasized that it’s “not OK” for the president to be calling for the arrest of a private citizen and that “we need to call that out.”
It wasn’t all Trump talk, however, as Colbert also asked Comey about Hillary Clinton’s private email servers, about which Comey called the 2016 presidential candidate “careless.”
“My judgment was that the public faith in the FBI and the justice system is all we have,” Comey said. He went on to say that his decision to make his announcement about Clinton’s emails in the late stages of the 2016 election was “unprecedented,” but added that it was “unprecedented to be investigating a candidate for the president of the United States.”
"What do you do? Speaking would be really bad and silence would be catastrophic," Comey said. "It makes me sick to my stomach that we might have had an impact. I hope and pray we didn’t. But, I hope this doesn’t sound strange, it wouldn’t change the decision."
Colbert asked about the infamous, unverified Russian dossier that mentioned salacious details of Trump and two prostitutes. "He denied it in pretty strong terms and asked if he looked like the kind of guy who needed the services of hookers," Comey responded.
"He looks like a microwaved circus peanut that someone rubbed on a golden retriever," Colbert responded.
Speaking on the issue of impeachment, Comey said he "mostly blames people who haven't voted."
"We need a moment of clarity and reflection," Comey went on. "We need people to say the value of our leadership matters."