Emerging on Tuesday from his second round of closed-door testimony before the House Oversight and Judiciary committees, former FBI Director James Comey spoke emotionally, and perhaps angrily, about how “the President of the United States is lying about the FBI, attacking the FBI, and attacking the rule of law in this country.”
“Republicans used to understand that the actions of a President matter, the words of a President matter, the rule of law matters, and the truth matters. Where are those Republicans today?” Comey asked. “At some point, someone has to stand up and, in the face of fear of Fox News, fear of their base, fear of mean tweets, stand up for the values of this country and not slink away into retirement, but stand up and speak the truth.”
That appeared to be a shot at the remarkable number of Republicans — like Trump critic Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) — who will retire from Congress next year.
Comey said he couldn’t say what the the investigative value of his testimony was.
“I don’t know exactly what they’re investigating,” he said. “The questions about Hillary Clinton and the Steele dossier strike me as more of the same. I didn’t learn anything new in there, maybe they did.”
Asked separately why he waited until the day of the FBI’s interview with then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to inform then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates about the interview, Comey was blunt.
“Because I knew that if anything came of the interview, if it advanced our investigation, the attack from the Trump administration would be that an Obama holdover had engineered it,” he said. “And so I had to make the decision, separate from her, to leave them with their only opportunity to challenge it would be to burn down the entire FBI.”
He pointed his finger at the Capitol hallway around him.
“To my shock and horror, they’ve tried to do just that in the face of silence from people in this building,” Comey said, adding later, referring to congressional Republicans: “Their silence is shameful.”
Asked later if he had confidence in acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, Comey said “no comment.”
Comey after second round of closed-door testimony: “Republicans used to understand that the actions of a President matter, the words of a President matter, the rule of law matters, and the truth matters. Where are those Republicans today?” pic.twitter.com/u1WbTI101n
— Matt Shuham (@mattshuham) December 17, 2018