James Comey Says Trump's Call to Put Him in Jail Is "Not Normal"
The former FBI director is in the midst of a press tour for his new memoir.
Former FBI Director James Comey says it's "not OK" and "not normal" for the president to call for the jailing of private citizens.
President Donald Trump suggested earlier this week that Comey should be jailed and accused him of leaking classified information and lying to Congress. The April 15 tweet came hours before Comey's first interview Sunday night.
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?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2018
The following day, Trump accused Comey of "committing many crimes" in another tweet.
Comey drafted the Crooked Hillary exoneration long before he talked to her (lied in Congress to Senator G), then based his decisions on her poll numbers. Disgruntled, he, McCabe, and the others, committed many crimes!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 16, 2018
"Most important, the president of the United States is calling for the imprisonment of a private citizen, as he's done for a whole lot of people who criticize him. That is not acceptable in this country," he said to ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, who also aired a pretaped interview with Comey the night prior. "I hope people read the book and see why the rule of law is such an important value in this country, and key to that is that the president doesn't get to decide who goes to jail.
Of Trump's many tweets about Comey, the former FBI director said America is "numb" to the president's posting.
“We wake up in the morning and see the president of the United States is accusing people of crimes without evidence and pronouncing them guilty and saying they should be in jail," he said. "That should wake all of us up with a start, but there's been so much of it that we're a little bit numb and that's dangerous.”
As for Trump's calling the FBI's raids on his lawyer, Michael Cohen, "an attack on our country," Comey had an explanation to share.
"It shows me he either doesn't know or doesn’t care what the rule of law looks like,” Comey said. “Nobody broke into anybody's office. It doesn't happen. The FBI gets a search warrant from a federal judge and conducts itself professionally, completely and politely by the accounts of the people involved. So it's a total distortion of the way things work.”
Comey — who is promoting his new book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, released today — said that "the president doesn't get to decide who goes to jail."
Trump fired Comey last year amid the FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Comey also commented on recent allegations involving his former deputy Andrew McCabe. A Justice Department watchdog concluded that McCabe had misled Comey and investigators about a news media disclosure involving Hillary Clinton shortly before the 2016 presidential election.
Comey said the process worked well, but was "tainted" by Trump publicly calling McCabe to be fired. Comey said Trump's actions "tainted an institution that pursues the truth."