Comey Denies Responsibility for Decline in FBI’s Reputation

Former FBI Director James Comey arrives to give closed-door testimony to the House Oversight and Judiciary committees, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., December 17, 2018. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Former FBI director James Comey denied responsibility for the decline in the bureau’s reputation on Monday after testifying behind closed doors before the House Judiciary and Oversight committees.

Asked by a reporter on Capitol Hill if he “shared any of the responsibility” for the decline in the FBI’s reputation as an unimpeachable, non-partisan agency, Comey answered simply: “No.”

“The FBI’s reputation is taking a big hit because the president has lied about it constantly. A whole lot of people who watch your network [Fox News] believe that nonsense. That’s a tragedy that will be undone eventually, but that damage has nothing to do with me,” he added.

Comey was called to testify by House Republicans for the second time this month regarding his role in the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and the bureau’s use of the infamous Steele dossier to obtain a FISA warrant to surveil General Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national-security adviser.

The former FBI director has been heavily criticized in the wake of the 2016 election for announcing that Clinton should not be prosecuted for mishandling classified information before publicly reopening the investigation into her conduct just days before the election.

Since Trump fired him soon after taking office, Comey has railed against the president for betraying America’s founding values and wrote a book detailing his conception of ethical leadership.

Asked by reporters about Trump characterizing of his former lawyer Michael Cohen as a “rat” for cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, Comey slammed the president.

“It undermines the rule of law,” Comey said. “This is the president of the U.S. calling a witness who is cooperating with his own Justice Department a ‘rat.’ Say that again to yourself at home and remind yourself where we ended up. This is not about Republicans and Democrats. This is about — what does it mean to be an American? . . . There’s a set of values that represent the glue of this country, and they are under attack by things just like that. We have to stop being numb to it.”

Comey went on to criticize Congressional Republicans for failing to publicly condemn the president, casting them as cowards beholden to favorable Fox News coverage.

“At some point someone has to stand up and in the face of fear of Fox News, fear of their base, fear of mean tweets, stand up for the values of this country and not slink away into retirement, but stand up and speak the truth,” said Comey, a former Republican.

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