WHY COMEY WROTE MEMOS — “I WAS HONESTLY CONCERNED THAT [TRUMP] MIGHT LIE …”
— ON THE RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE IN U.S. ELECTIONS — “They’ll be back … They’re going to come for whatever party they chose to work on behalf of … They’re about their own advantage.”
Good Thursday afternoon. JAMES COMEY has finally spoken.
THE BIG MOMENTS …
— COMEY TO HIS FORMER FBI COLLEAGUES: “The administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader. Those were lies, plain and simple. And I am so sorry that the FBI workforce had to hear them, and I’m so sorry that the American people were told them.”
— ON WHY HE WAS FIRED: “I guess I don’t know for sure. I believe — I take the president at his word, that I was fired because of the Russia investigation. Something about the way I was conducting it, the president felt created pressure on him they wanted to relieve. Again, I didn’t know that at the time. I watched his interview. I read the press accounts of his conversations. I take him at his word there. Now look, I could be wrong. Maybe he’s saying something that’s not true. But I take him at his word, at least based on what I know now.”
— ON TAPES: “Look, I’ve seen the tweet about tapes. Lordy, I hope there are tapes. I remember saying, ‘I agree he is a good guy,’ as a way of saying, I’m not agreeing with what you asked me to do.”
— COMEY ON RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE: “There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did it with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts. It was an active measures campaign driven from the top of that government. There is no fuzz on that. … That’s about as unfake as you can possibly get.”
— ON THE FEB. 14 ONE-ON-ONE WITH TRUMP IN THE OVAL: “My impression was something big is about to happen. I need to remember every single word that is spoken. And again, I could be wrong, but I’m 56 years old, I’ve been, seen a few things, my sense was the attorney general knew he shouldn’t be leaving which was why he was lingering and I don’t know Mr. Kushner well but I think he picked up on the same thing, so I knew something was about to happen that I needed to pay very close attention to.”
— ON HOW CONTENTS OF A MEMO BECAME PUBLIC: “I asked — the president tweeted on Friday after I got fired that I better hope there’s not tapes. I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night because it didn’t dawn on me originally, that there might be corroboration for our conversation. There might be a tape. My judgement was, I need to get that out into the public square. I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. Didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons. I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel. I asked a close friend to do it.” He said it was not Benjamin Wittes, the editor in chief of Lawfare, but it was a “close friend who is a professor at Columbia law school.”
— ON WHY HE DIDN’T GIVE THE MEMO TO THE MEDIA HIMSELF: “Because I was weary [of] the media [that] was camping at the end of my driveway at that point. I was actually going out of town with my wife to hide. I worried it would be feeding seagulls at the beach, if it was I who gave it to the media.”
— ON CLINTON’S EMAILS: The former FBI director said he did not regret his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server: “It caused a whole lot of personal pain for me but as I look back, given what I knew at the time and even what I’ve learned since, I think it was the best way to try to protect the justice institution, including the FBI.” He also said that the meeting between Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac was the “conclusive” reason he went public with the investigation. He also said that Lynch at one point “directed me not to call it an investigation, but instead to call it a matter, which confused me and concerned me.”
— ON IF HE’D BE FIRED IF CLINTON WAS PRESIDENT: “That’s a great question. I don’t know. I don’t know. … I might have been. I don’t know. Look, I’ve said before, that was an extraordinarily difficult and painful time. I think I did what I had to do. I knew it was going to be very bad for me personally. And the consequence of that might have been if Hillary Clinton was elected I might have been terminated. I don’t know. I really don’t.”
ASKED IF DONALD TRUMP COLLUDED WITH RUSSIA, Comey said he should not answer that in an open setting.