Former FBI Director James Comey slammed Republicans on Monday for not speaking out against President Donald Trump’s attacks on the FBI and strongly defended the agency’s conduct, following his second round of questioning at a closed-door congressional interview.
“Somebody has to stand up and speak for the FBI,” Comey told reporters after his nearly six-hour interview with members of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees. “People who know better, including Republican members of this body, have to have the courage to stand up and speak the truth, not be cowed by mean tweets or fear of their base. There is a truth and they’re not telling it. Their silence is shameful.”
Comey’s comments came after he spent more than five hours behind closed doors on Monday with Republicans and Democrats. He was questioned on the FBI’s handling of both the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the Russia investigation.
Comey issued a fiery and defiant statement as he left Monday, charging Trump and Republicans with damaging the FBI’s reputation and asserting that “damage has nothing to do with me.”
“The FBI’s reputation has taken a big hit because the President of the United States has lied about it constantly,” Comey said.
Behind closed doors, Comey defended the FBI, saying he and the bureau made the right call in 2017 when he rebuffed Trump’s requests to announce publicly that the President wasn’t under investigation, a source familiar with the interview told CNN.
Under questioning from Democrats, Comey said that he didn’t want to declare publicly that Trump wasn’t under investigation because of a concern that the situation could change and the FBI would have to make another announcement. And he told lawmakers that he was proven right because it now appears Trump was in fact under investigation, the source said, though Comey said that he was only basing that from public reporting and not any inside knowledge.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders responded to Comey’s comments by tweeting Monday evening: “Republicans should stand up to Comey and his tremendous corruption – from the fake Hillary Clinton investigation, to lying and leaking, to FISA abuse, and a list too long to name. The President did the country a service by firing him and exposing him for the shameless fraud he is.”