WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump unleashed a torrent of rage against James Comey on Sunday over the former FBI director's forthcoming book, calling him "slippery," insisting he never asked him for loyalty and labelling him "the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!"
Trump fired off a series of tweets ahead of Comey's interview with ABC, which was set to air in full Sunday evening.
In an excerpt shown Saturday, Comey said his belief that Hillary Clinton would win the 2016 presidential election was a factor in his decision to disclose the investigation into her emails. Trump seized on that, saying Comey "was making decisions based on the fact that he thought she was going to win, and he wanted a job. Slimeball!"
Comey's disclosure shortly before the 2016 election that the FBI had reopened its investigation into her email use enraged Democrats. Following Clinton's loss, Democrats blamed Comey and Clinton herself has said it hurt her election prospects.
Trump also pushed back again against Comey's claims that Trump sought his loyalty, saying it was "Just another of his many lies. His 'memos' are self serving and FAKE!"
He also suggested Comey should be imprisoned, saying "how come he gave up Classified Information (jail), why did he lie to Congress (jail)." There is no indication Comey is under investigation for doing either.
Asked if the president wanted the Justice Department to investigate Comey, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that she was not aware of a specific request, but "if they feel there was any wrongdoing, they should certainly look into that just as they do on a number of other topics."
Comey is embarking on a public rollout of his book, "A Higher Loyalty," which comes out Tuesday. The book offers Comey's version of the highly controversial events surrounding his firing by Trump and the investigations into Russian election meddling and Clinton's email practices. In it, Comey compares Trump to a mafia don and calls his leadership of the country "ego driven and about personal loyalty."
Trump fired Comey in May 2017, setting off a scramble at the Justice Department that led to the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation. Mueller's probe has expanded to include whether Trump obstructed justice by firing Comey, which the president denies.
Trump has said he fired Comey because of his handling of the FBI's investigation into Clinton's email practices. Trump used the investigation as a cudgel in the campaign and repeatedly said Clinton should be jailed for using a personal email system while serving as secretary of state. Democrats, on the other hand, have accused Comey of politicizing the investigation.
In the interview excerpt released Saturday, Comey said he did not remember "consciously thinking" about the election results as he decided to disclose that the FBI had reopened its investigation into candidate Clinton's email use, but he said "I was operating in a world where Hillary Clinton was going to beat Donald Trump, and so I'm sure that it was a factor."
He added: "I don't remember spelling it out, but it had to have been, that she's going to be elected president and if I hide this from the American people, she'll be illegitimate the moment she's elected, the moment this comes out."