WNPR

Former FBI Director Comey Discusses How He Views Trump's Conduct In New Book

Apr 16, 2018
Originally published on April 17, 2018 2:40 pm
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Former FBI Director James Comey's book "A Higher Loyalty" comes out tomorrow. His tell-all memoir is not only about his interactions with President Trump. It's also about how he views the conduct of the highest officeholder in the U.S. Here's what he told Terry Gross of WHYY's Fresh Air today.

TERRY GROSS, BYLINE: A few days ago, President Trump gave Scooter Libby a full pardon. Libby had been Vice President Cheney's chief of staff. In 2007, Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with leaking the identity of a covert CIA agent Valerie Plame. And Plame said over the weekend, Trump is saying if you get in trouble, don't spill the beans. I'll take care of you. This is how the mafia works.

So that's Valerie Plame's take on it that Trump is sending a message like if you get in trouble, don't spill the beans on me. I'll take care of you. You are the one who appointed the special prosecutor on that case. You appointed Patrick Fitzgerald. Do you think the president is also sending you a message that he's undoing some of your work, that he's putting a thumb in your eye by pardoning Scooter Libby? Do you take it personally at all?

JAMES COMEY: I don't. Ringing in my head is something my wife has said to me a lot throughout my life - it's not about you, dear. I doubt that he's thinking about me when he's doing that. But that doesn't mean it's not an attack on the rule of law. There's a reason that President George W. Bush, for whom Scooter Libby worked, refused to pardon him after reviewing the case in detail. There was overwhelming evidence that he lied intentionally to investigators and to the grand jury.

I tell the story of the Scooter Libby case in the book because in - the book is not about Donald Trump. He's part of it. But a big part of the book is about so what are the values that are at the core of our work in the justice system? And one of them is people have to tell the truth in the course of our investigations or the rule of law fails. The Libby case was incredibly important and justified by overwhelming facts. To pardon now is an attack on the rule of law.

SHAPIRO: You can hear the rest of Terry Gross' interview with James Comey tomorrow on WHYY's Fresh Air. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.