Former FBI director James Comey has written a scathing commentary about the impact President Donald Trump has on people, saying he "eats your soul in small bites."
In an opinion piece for The New York Times published Wednesday, the former lawman — who Trump fired in May 2017, an act that helped kick off the special counsel investigation regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election — did not hold back.
Comey was critical of Attorney General William Barr, who testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday about Robert Mueller's Russia report, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is resigning from his post next week.
"How could [Barr] write and say things about the report by Robert Mueller, the special counsel, that were apparently so misleading that they prompted written protest from the special counsel himself?" Comey wrote.
"How could Mr. Barr go before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday and downplay President Trump's attempt to fire Mr. Mueller before he completed his work?
"And how could Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, after the release of Mr. Mueller's report that detailed Mr. Trump's determined efforts to obstruct justice, give a speech quoting the president on the importance of the rule of law? Or on resigning, thank a president who relentlessly attacked both him and the Department of Justice he led for 'the courtesy and humor you often display in our personal conversations?'"
Comey then laid out his argument that Trump has a unique way of controlling people around him by using persuasive language and the fact that "he rarely stops talking."
"Mr. Trump eats your soul in small bites," Comey wrote. "It starts with your sitting silent while he lies, both in public and private, making you complicit by your silence. In meetings with him, his assertions about what 'everyone thinks' and what is 'obviously true' wash over you, unchallenged, as they did at our private dinner on Jan. 27, 2017, because he's the president and he rarely stops talking. As a result, Mr. Trump pulls all of those present into a silent circle of assent."
Comey, whose career at the FBI began in 2013, accused Barr and Rosenstein of staying silent when they should know better.
Trump's "outrageous conduct convinces you that you simply must stay, to preserve and protect the people and institutions and values you hold dear," Comey wrote. "Along with Republican members of Congress, you tell yourself you are too important for this nation to lose, especially now."
He closed by writing, "Of course, to stay, you must be seen as on his team, so you make further compromises. You use his language, praise his leadership, tout his commitment to values. And then you are lost. He has eaten your soul."
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