Donald Trump is "morally unfit" to be president of the United States, former FBI director James Comey told ABC in an interview broadcast on Sunday.
"I don't buy this stuff about him being mentally incompetent or early stages of dementia," Comey said of Trump, according to a transcript from ABC.
"I don't think he's medically unfit to be president. I think he's morally unfit to be president," he said.
“Our president must embody respect and adhere to the values that are at the core of this country,” Comey said during his first television interview to discuss his highly-publicized book, “A Higher Loyalty.”
“The most important being truth. This president is not able to do that. He is morally unfit to be president.”
Comey, who was fired by Trump in May of last year for his inability to “effectively lead the bureau," also said impeaching the president would just "let him off the hook."
“You cannot have, as president of the United States, someone who does not reflect the values that I believe Republicans treasure and Democrats treasure and independents treasure,” Comey said. “That is the core of this country. That’s our foundation. And so impeachment, in a way, would short-circuit that.”
Comey at the time of his ouster was leading a counterintelligence investigation to determine whether associates of Trump coordinated with Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
In an excerpt shown Saturday, Comey said his belief that Clinton would beat Trump in the 2016 presidential election was a factor in his decision to disclose the investigation into her emails.
Trump seized on that, saying Comey "was making decisions based on the fact that he thought she was going to win, and he wanted a job. Slimeball!"
Trump also pushed back on Comey’s claims that he sought the former FBI director’s loyalty, saying it was “just another of many lies,” and suggested that Comey should be imprisoned, saying “how come he gave up Classified Information (jail), why did he lie to Congress (jail).”
Comey on Twitter said his book was about “ethical leadership,” and that it drew on stories from his life and lessons learned from others.
Three “presidents are in my book,” he wrote Sunday. Two “help illustrate the values at the heart of ethical leadership; 1 serves as a counterpoint.”
Comey also said that he couldn’t rule out the possibility that the Russian government has incriminating information about the president.
“I think it’s possible. I don’t know,” Comey said when asked whether Trump has been “comromised” by the Russians. “These are more words I never thought I’d utter about a president of the United States, but it’s possible.”
Encounters with the president, Comey wrote, gave him “flashbacks to my earlier career as a prosecutor against the mob. The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth.”
Comey also said that he doesn’t know if some salacious accusations in a controversial dossier on Trump are true. He said Trump repeatedly asked about its unverified allegation that Russians had video footage of a 2013 encounter with prostitutes in Moscow.
The thought of having dinner alone with Trump at the White House made Comey “deeply uncomfortable,” he wrote, because he feared that the president wanted to compromise the FBI’s integrity and independence and was waging “an effort to establish a patronage relationship” with him.
The Republican National Committee has started an effort to discredit Comey on social media, in digital advertising, and through a website, lyincomey.com.
House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, said on Fox News Channel on Sunday that Comey was “out for revenge” against Trump.
But House Speaker Paul Ryan said Sunday that Comey was a man of integrity “as far as I know,” while adding that “I don’t know the guy.”
Asked whether Comey is someone he would describe as a “slime ball” -- a term Trump has used twice in tweets -- Ryan said in an interview broadcast Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “I don’t speak like that. I don’t use words like that.”
AFP and Bloomberg News contributed to this report.
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