Former FBI Director James Comey today defended himself against critiques of his new book and criticism of his remarks about the Republican Party during his promotional tour, though admitting he would leave out a paragraph about President Trump if he had to write it all over again.
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“A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership,” which went on sale today, is not a “tell-all,” he said on ABC’s “The View” this morning.
“I don’t think of it as a tell-all. It’s a whole lot more than the stories that are in the last few chapters in the book,” he said. “It’s about mistakes I made, things I’m very much ashamed of [that] I did when I was younger.”
He also pushed back on “The View” co-host Meghan McCain’s comment that J. Edgar Hoover, the first director of the FBI, would be “rolling in his grave” over Comey’s book.
“It has no classified information in it, no sensitive investigative information in it, and I know that because I wrote it and the FBI reviewed it, so I think J. Edgar Hoover would say you followed the rules and you were transparent,” Comey said.
“J. Edgar Hoover had a number of flaws. One of them was he wasn’t a transparent person; he was all about secret files,” he said, referencing the files Hoover kept on political leaders.
Transparency “has to be a huge part of the FBI,” he said, adding, “we have to show people our work when we can.”
To that point, he agreed with the U.S. Inspector General office’s investigation into Andrew McCabe, Comey’s successor at the FBI. The report, released last Friday, accused McCabe of “lacking candor” on multiple occasions and violating FBI policy when he authorized the disclosure of sensitive investigative information to a reporter.
On “The View” this morning, Comey said he stands by his earlier statements that he believes McCabe is a good man but notes that good men can lie.
“The McCabe case illustrates what an organization that’s committed to the truth looks like. … I ordered the investigation. We investigate and hold people accountable,” Comey said.
“I still believe Andrew McCabe is a good person but the Inspector General found that he lied but there are severe consequences in the Justice Department for lying, as there should be throughout the government,” he said.
As for the discussion of his views on the political parties, including the Republican Party, of which he was a registered member for much of his adult life before becoming FBI director with no party affiliation who abstained from voting in 2016, Comey doesn’t see a problem in his pointing out what he feels are values issues.
“I don’t think of it as my politics,” he said. “I think of it as my values.
“I don’t care whether people support a Republican or a Democrat because I’m not either. I don’t care who they support. I hope the conversation will start with values and come to policy second because we’re always going to fight about guns and taxes and immigration, but all we are as this country are a collection of values and that’s what connects Republicans and Democrats,” he said.
Comey said there has been one piece of criticism about the book that has caused him to reconsider what he included. It comes in response to critics who have pointed to certain details about President Trump’s appearance that some say reduce the credibility of the book, including mention of the color of the then-president-elect’s skin, the likelihood that he used tanning beds, the styling of his hair and the size of his hands.
“If I had to do over again,” Comey said, “I wouldn’t put that paragraph in.
“I really wasn’t trying to pick on Donald Trump,” he said, adding that he thinks people have “seized on to [the descriptions] as a distraction.”