Former FBI Director James Comey is defending himself against criticism about his new book that compares President Donald Trump to a mafia don and says he threatens the country.
Some have questioned Comey's decisions during and after the 2016 presidential election based on what he wrote in "A Higher Loyalty," the book Comey is promoting in appearances across the country. But Comey has stood by how he handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails, his public critiques of Trump amid a possible obstruction of justice investigation and his motivation for writing the book.
"I think it is raw in the sense that I find it really painful to relive — reading that book, doing the audiobook left me physically drained — but I really don't feel a sense of anger" he told Savannah Guthrie on the "Today" show Wednesday.
"I'm very worried, actually, which is why I'm doing something that I don't love, which is talking about it, writing about it," he continued.
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Comey's book and his remarks around its release offer his version of events surrounding his firing and the investigations into Russian election meddling and Clinton's email practices. Several of the episodes he describes in detail, including a private conversation about former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn, are central to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and his recollections are presumably valuable for prosecutors examining whether the president's actions constitute obstruction of justice.
After firing Comey in May, Trump told NBC's Lester Holt that the investigation into Russian interference had been on his mind and that he would have fired Comey "regardless of investigation."
But Tuesday, after Comey's interview on the "Today" show, Trump insisted that "Slippery James Comey, the worst FBI Director in history, was not fired because of the phony Russia investigation."
Comey told Guthrie he doesn't believe he's made Mueller's possible prosecution of obstruction of justice charges any harder, noting that his bias against Trump "was going to be pretty obvious to begin with" and that he submitted the book to the FBI for review before it was published. He added that investigators have his contemporaneous notes and congressional testimony.
Comey has already defended himself in the face of sustained criticism, even from the president, over how he handled the Clinton investigation. Many Democrats blamed Comey for her loss after he publicly rebuked her over her private email account then revealed shortly before Election Day that the FBI was reopening its probe.
"I couldn't find a door that was labeled 'no action' so I assumed it might have some impact" on the election, Comey said Wednesday.
Another common criticism of the book is how Comey described Trump, with his tie "too long" and "bright white half-moons" under his eyes that Comey said he believes came from tanning goggles. But Comey argued that was the kind of description a good author puts in a book, not a shot at the president's appearance. He struck a different tone later Wednesday in an appearance on "The View," telling the cohosts, "I do see people have seized on that as a distraction. ... If I had a do-over again, I would tear that paragraph out."
Comey has given many interviews on the book tour, which took him to late-night television on Tuesday. Stephen Colbert asked him about Trump's repeated attacks on him as "slippery" and a "slimeball."
"I've been gone for a year. I'm like the breakup he can't get over," Comey said.
"I'm out there living my best life. He wakes up in the morning and tweets at me."
He also told ABC News radio that "the Republican Party has left me and many others."
On the "Today" show, Comey vowed never to run for public office.