WASHINGTON — Former FBI Director James Comey said he’s “disappointed and disgusted” with Republican attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, a campaign led by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani since he became one of President Donald Trump’s top lawyers.
“They’re not just criticizing the investigators,” Comey said Tuesday in an interview with Bloomberg News. “They’re attacking the entire institutions of justice, and that’s what makes this unprecedented in my experience.”
Comey, 57, a longtime Republican who was fired a year ago by Trump, said he no longer considers himself a member of the party.
“I’m shocked, disappointed and disgusted,” Comey said of the GOP. “I don’t know what it stands for honestly, and it’s going to have to answer those questions.”
Mueller’s appointment followed Trump’s ouster of Comey on May 9 of last year. “Happy anniversary,” quipped Comey, who’s on an extended tour to promote his best-selling book, “A Higher Loyalty,” which tears into Trump as morally unfit for the presidency and compares his actions to those of a mob boss.
Comey said he wasn’t sure if Mueller can compel Trump to testify by subpoena if he refuses to sit down for a voluntary interview, or if a sitting president can be indicted by the Justice Department. While an existing legal memo from the department’s Office of Legal Counsel rules out an indictment, Comey said it could be rescinded and changed.
Trump and Giuliani have launched a public relations assault on Mueller’s investigation, calling it a “witch hunt” and arguing it is lasting too long and exceeding its scope.
“Is this Phony Witch Hunt going to go on even longer so it wrongfully impacts the Mid-Term Elections, which is what the Democrats always intended?” Trump tweeted on May 7. “Republicans better get tough and smart before it is too late!”
Giuliani said during a May 6 interview on ABC’s “This Week” that Comey could have lied to Mueller about his interactions with Trump, which might create a trap for the president if he were to testify for the investigation.
“The special counsel so far seems to think that Comey is Moses,” Giuliani said. “And I happen to think Comey is Judas.”
Comey said he hasn’t lied to anyone. He said critics of the Russia investigation have an advantage in lobbing criticism because Mueller is restricted in disclosing details of his probe.
“My view is, having participated in complex investigations, this one is moving very quickly and a whole lot of evidence of the productivity has emerged in the charges they’ve brought publicly — guilty pleas and indictments,” Comey said. “The way Bob Mueller is operating is the way it’s supposed to operate. No leaks. No updates on the progress of his investigation other than public charges. Our justice system is just designed that way.”
The attacks on Mueller’s investigation could indicate a consciousness of guilt, Comey said.
“What it definitely demonstrates is an utter lack of appreciation for the core values of this country and the things that matter above all the normal everyday disputes in this country,” Comey said, returning to his concern about what he considers the compromises being accepted by supporters of the president.
“Tax cuts are important. Immigration is important. Guns are important,” he said. “But none of them are as important as the values that make this country what it is. I just think it’s a fool’s bargain, including among faith leaders who think they’re making a trade to gain something. All we have is our values.”
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