President Donald Trump’s complaint that an FBI raid against his personal lawyer Michael Cohen constituted “an attack on our country” shows a lack of understanding of the U.S. justice system, former FBI Director James Comey said Monday.
“Yeah, it shows me he either doesn't know or doesn't care what the rule of law looks like. Nobody broke into anybody's office. It doesn't happen,” Comey told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “The FBI gets a search warrant from a federal judge and conducts itself professionally, completely and politely by the accounts of the people involved so it's a total distortion of the way things work.”
Trump was emphatic in his criticism last week of the FBI’s execution of search warrants against Michael Cohen, the president’s longtime personal attorney, calling it a “disgraceful situation,” “an attack on our country, in a true sense” and “an attack on what we all stand for.” Those characterizations don’t match, Comey said, with the reality of how the bureau operated in raiding Cohen’s home and office.
The former FBI director has taken center stage in recent days, conducting multiple interviews as part of a publicity tour for his new book, which was released Tuesday. Comey has offered withering criticism of Trump, who fired him last spring, in both interviews and the book itself, labeling him morally unfit to be president.
The Trump administration has been equally withering in its response to Comey, painting him as an admitted leaker and a disgruntled employee. The president, in a post to Twitter over the weekend, said Comey “will go down as the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!”
Comey was also critical in his Tuesday “Good Morning America” interview of Trump’s decision last week to pardon Scooter Libby, a former chief of staff to former Vice President Dick Cheney who was convicted of obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements to investigators in relation to the leaking of the identity of a CIA officer Valerie Plame.
The pardon was seen by some as a signal from Trump that he would use his pardon power to protect individuals close to him or his allies who have become wrapped up in federal investigations, although the White House has denied such a motive.
“It's an attack on the rule of law. There's a reason President George W. Bush, for whom Scooter Libby worked, refused to pardon him after looking at all the facts in the case,” Comey said of the Libby pardon. “It was an overwhelming case. There's no reason that's consistent with justice to pardon him. And so it's an attack on the rule of law in my view.”