US President Donald Trump. / AFP PHOTO / Olivier Douliery
Donald Trump launched into another furious Twitter tirade against James Comey on Sunday, hours before the broadcast of an extended interview with the fired former FBI director and with a memoir detailing his interactions with the US president soon to hit US bookstores.
Excerpts of the interview with ABC News already have been aired, as have reviews of Comey’s memoir, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership.”
The book, which is due out Tuesday, likens Trump to a dishonest, ego-driven mob boss and says he demanded Comey’s personal pledge of loyalty — a damning account that has infuriated the president at a moment of intensifying legal pressure on other fronts.
“I never asked Comey for Personal Loyalty. I hardly even knew this guy. Just another of his many lies. His ‘memos’ are self serving and FAKE!” Trump said in one of his latest tweets.
The president again called Comey, who has said he took detailed notes of his meetings with Trump, a “slime ball” and said he “stupidly” handled a probe into Trump’s 2016 election rival Hillary Clinton.
In another tweet, the president undertook a mini-review of Comey’s memoir: “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?”
The jumble of references appeared to allude to unsubstantiated accusations Trump has previously made claiming Comey lied in Senate testimony last May in denying he had served as an anonymous news source.
“Look, it’s been very clear that James Comey is a self-admitted leaker. He lied to Congress,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on ABC’s “This Week.”
The escalating feud comes with momentum gathering in a special federal probe into possible Trump campaign collusion with a Russian effort to sway the 2016 elections.
In the latest twist, the Justice Department revealed this week that Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has been under “criminal investigation” for months in a separate probe led by the US attorney’s office in New York.
On Monday, federal investigators searched Cohen’s New York residence, office, hotel room, safety deposit boxes and cellphones. Materials seized could include evidence related to payoffs to two women who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.
Trump and his aides have countered by attacking Comey’s handling of an investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state.
Comey, who was fired by Trump last year, acknowledged in the ABC interview that his belief that Clinton would be elected president “was a factor” in his decision to reopen the email probe 11 days before the US election, a development that Clinton blames for her surprise defeat.
“I don’t remember spelling it out, but it had to have been, that she’s going to be elected president and if I hide this from the American people, she’ll be illegitimate the moment she’s elected, the moment this comes out,” Comey said.
His comments echoed a quote from his memoir, in which he said it was “entirely possible” his concern over Clinton’s legitimacy “bore greater weight than it would have if the election appeared closer or if Donald Trump were ahead in all polls.”
“Unbelievably, James Comey states that Polls, where Crooked Hillary was leading, were a factor in the handling (stupidly) of the Clinton Email probe,” Trump tweeted.
“In other words, he was making decisions based on the fact that he thought she was going to win, and he wanted a job. Slimeball!” he wrote.
In another tweet he accused Comey of throwing former attorney general Loretta Lynch “under the bus,” an allusion to Comey having criticized Lynch in the memoir for suggesting that he refer to the Clinton probe as only a “matter,” rather than an investigation.
“Was she promised a Supreme Court seat, or AG, in order to lay off Hillary,” Trump asked.Clinton has previously said she believes Comey’s announcement played a part in her losing the presidency.
“After the Comey letter, my momentum was stopped,” she told NPR in late 2017.”My numbers dropped, and we were scrambling to try to put it back together, and we ran out of time.”