Former FBI Director James Comey on Thursday rebuked Rudy Giuliani, a member of President Donald Trump's legal team, for referring to bureau officials as "stormtroopers," saying U.S. leaders should emulate federal workers "rather than comparing them to Nazis."
During an interview on Fox News Wednesday, Giuliani blasted an FBI raid of the offices and home of Trump's longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Giuliani framed the seizure of documents as a disproportionate action in the FBI investigation into Cohen's payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who says she was paid to keep quiet about a sexual encounter with Trump.
Giuliani characterized the raids as "big stormtroopers coming in and breaking down his apartment and breaking down his office." The remark appeared to reference a paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party — known as the Sturmabteilung, or Storm Detachment — that played a role in the rise of German dictator Adolf Hitler.
Comey pushed back against the remarks.
"I know the New York FBI. There are no “stormtroopers” there; just a group of people devoted to the rule of law and the truth," Comey tweeted. "Our country would be better off if our leaders tried to be like them, rather than comparing them to Nazis."
Comey, currently engaged in a book tour to promote his memoir, "A Higher Loyalty," has been sharply critical of the president's remarks about Department of Justice officials in his writing and in media appearances.
In an interview with the Associated Press released Wednesday, Comey argued that Trump's remarks about the FBI and other DOJ agencies made the U.S. less safe by undermining their integrity.
Comey told the AP that Trump's verbal attacks on the bureau, including his suggestion that the former FBI leader ought to be imprisoned, adversely affect public safety in "hundreds of thousands of ways." The former bureau chief said the president's comments could, among other things, lessen the trust crime victims have that an FBI agent knocking at their door or testifying in court could be believed.
“To the extent there’s been a marginal decrease in their credibility at that doorway, in that courtroom and in thousands of other ways, their effectiveness is hit. So it’s hard,” he said. “You’re not going to be able to see it, but logic tells me that it’s there, which is why it’s so important that we knock it off as a political culture.”
In recent months, Trump has accused the FBI of "slow walking" document disclosure requests by members of Congress, questioned agents' handling of investigations in 2016 into himself and into former secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and suggested that "leaking, lying and corruption" existed "at the highest levels of the FBI, Justice & State."
Trump has branded Comey “the WORST FBI Director in history" and suggested he face jail time over charges he leaked classified information, which Comey has denied.