Comey Begins A Media Blitz As His Book 'A Higher Loyalty' Is Released

Apr 16, 2018
Originally published on April 16, 2018 6:13 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Former FBI Director James Comey is having a moment right now. And he's using it to speak his piece about the president who fired him. Comey's doing a round of interviews to promote his new memoir. It's titled "A Higher Loyalty." The first was with ABC News, and it aired last night. In it, Comey defended how he handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails, and he questioned the president's personal character.

(SOUNDBITE OF ABC NEWS BROADCAST)

JAMES COMEY: A person who sees moral equivalence in Charlottesville, who talks about and treats women like they're pieces of meat, who lies constantly about matters big and small and insists the American people believe it, that person's not fit to be president of the United States on moral grounds. Our president must embody, respect and adhere to the values that are the core of this country, the most important being truth. This president is not able to do that. He is morally unfit to be president.

MARTIN: All right, I am joined now by NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith.

Hi, Tamara.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTIN: So excerpts from Comey's book came out late last week. We all saw those. But it was something different to watch the former FBI director on TV, hear him in his own words castigate the president of the United States in this way.

KEITH: And we're going to hear a lot more of it in the days to come. You know, there was something in this interview for people who support Hillary Clinton to hate. There was also a lot in it for people who support President Trump to hate. And there was one moment that I want to play for you. George Stephanopoulos, who conducted the interview, asked Comey, do you think the Russians have something on Donald Trump? Do you think that he has been compromised somehow by the Russians?

(SOUNDBITE OF ABC NEWS BROADCAST)

COMEY: It is stunning. And I wish I wasn't saying it. But it's just - it's the truth. I cannot say that. It always struck me and still strikes me as unlikely. And I would've been able to say with high confidence about any other president I dealt with, but I can't. It's possible.

KEITH: As for the Clinton email investigation, Stephanopoulos asked Comey whether his decisions were influenced by the assumption that Clinton was going to win. And Comey said, well, it must have been; I don't remember consciously thinking about that, but it must've been because I was operating in a world where Hillary Clinton was going to beat Donald Trump.

MARTIN: So President Trump had some things to say about James Comey over the weekend, pre-emptively to try to undermine his credibility, would you say?

KEITH: Yeah. And there have been clips going around. And, of course, the book reviews are out. President Trump, in a series of tweets, said a lot of mean things about Comey, including, quote, "slippery James Comey, a man who always ends up badly out of whack - he's not smart! - will go down as the worst FBI director in history by far!" That is just a taste of the many things that President Trump has been saying about Comey. The question is whether this will continue throughout the week as Comey week continues on television and beyond.

MARTIN: And we'll hear from the former FBI director on this program tomorrow. Meanwhile, the president's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen - we know that name. His office was raided by the FBI last week. He is scheduled to appear in court today. President Trump is taking legal action, I understand, to try to keep prosecutors from analyzing the materials seized in those raids. Get us up to speed on this.

KEITH: Yeah. So Cohen is president Trump's lawyer and fixer. And he is appearing in court today to argue that the government shouldn't be able to use all of the documents and other things that were seized in these search warrants because of attorney-client privilege. President Trump's lawyer - one of his many lawyers - filed a letter last night with the court saying that his legal team should be able to do an initial review of the documents that were seized and pull out those that would violate what they see as attorney-client privilege. And just to give a sense of what's typical, when an attorney's documents are scooped up - and this is not - it's not common for attorney's documents to get scooped up - a so-called taint team of prosecutors not involved in the case reviews them before they're handed over to investigators.

MARTIN: All right, NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith for us this morning. Tamara, thanks so much.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.