Republicans dismissed James Comey’s recent attacks on President Donald Trump Wednesday, suggesting the former FBI director’s animus toward Trump is driven by a desire to entice readers to buy his new book.
“A Higher Loyalty” hit bookstores Tuesday but some of Comey’s harshest critiques of Trump leaked last week. Some have questioned Comey’s motivation for slamming the president who fired him from a law enforcement job he loved last May.
“I think that James Comey wants to sell books,” said Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Ill. “I think that’s what this is all about.”
In his book, Comey blasts Trump as an unprincipled liar who is “morally unfit” to be president. He also accuses Trump of undermining the rule of law and the credibility of the Justice Department.
The insults have prompted Trump to fire back on Twitter, calling Comey a liar, a leaker, a criminal, and a slimeball. Trump has also declared Comey the worst FBI director in history.
“I take him with a grain of salt,” Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., said of Comey, accusing him of politicizing the FBI both as director and as a private citizen.
“I think his highest loyalty is simply to sell more books,” Graves said.
Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said he has defended Comey in the past, but he has been troubled by the former director’s behavior over the last year since being forced out of the FBI.
“It’s demeaning of the office of a very important position, director of the FBI, for him to be out in such a partisan way and really such a personal way, trying to sell books,” he said.
Rep. Tom Garrett, R-Va., was even more blunt in his characterization of Comey.
“I’ll tell you honestly that shameless profiteering, those words come to mind,” he said.
Garrett pointed to attacks on Comey’s credibility coming from the Trump administration, allies of Hillary Clinton, and some former FBI officials.
“Maybe we should look at legislation that seeks the ability of people to profiteer based on privileged information,” he said. “That’s what’s going on here.”
Comey continued his book tour Wednesday, following a Tuesday appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” with a sit-down with the hosts of ABC’s “The View.” Among other things, he told the women he does not believe Trump will attempt to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, who is heading up an investigation of Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election.
"The president would have to fire everyone in the Department of Justice and the FBI to stop an investigation," Comey said. "So it doesn't make any sense to fire Director Mueller and bring the kind of storm that would bring. So I actually don't expect that to happen ... I don't expect it."
He acknowledged, however, that he had not expected Trump to fire him either.
In a separate interview with ABC News podcast “Start Here,” Comey lamented the Republican Party’s evolution into the party of Trump, noting that the Republican National Committee has launched a website branding him “Lyin’ Comey” for his criticism of the president.
"I see the Republican Party, as near as I can tell, reflects now entirely Donald Trump's values," he said. "It doesn't reflect values at all. It's transactional, it's ego-driven, it's in service to his ego."
Comey, a longtime Republican, said he can no longer associate himself with the party.
Some Republicans do still have positive things to say about Comey, though.
“I have respect for James Comey as our FBI director, as a former federal prosecutor, as a former U.S. attorney,” said LaHood, also a former prosecutor. “I think he served this country well, but you have to put this in context of what he’s trying to do. That’s trying to sell a book.”
Stewart also offered something resembling a compliment.
“You have to give him credit,” he said. “He’s a great salesman.”