Former FBI director James B. Comey on Tuesday responded to Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani’s recent broadsides against him, saying that his view of the former U.S. attorney whose work once inspired him had “changed over time,” and that Giuliani seemed to feel the same way.
“I guess the love is gone,” Comey joked. “I used to be one of his star prosecutors. It appears I’m not anymore.”
Comey’s comments came during a wide-ranging conversation with reporter Carol D. Leonnig at a Washington Post Live event. He was responding to comments Giuliani had made on various television appearances, including the assertion that one reason President Trump might not agree to an interview with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is that the special counsel is more likely to believe Comey’s version of events than Trump’s.
“People do things like lie,” Giuliani said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “People lie. Could Comey be lying? You’re damn right he could be lying. . . . And we’re going to walk ourselves into a trap like that?”
Giuliani added that Mueller has to show he is open to believing Trump: “The special counsel so far seems to think that Comey is Moses. And I happen to think Comey is Judas.”
Comey on Tuesday declined to say whether he would advise Trump to sit for an interview with Mueller if he were Trump’s attorney.
“You’d have to be very thoughtful about that, given that your client is somebody who lies a lot,” Comey said, adding that lawyers would have to convey to the president, “This is one you cannot BS your way through.”
The comments were striking in part because of Comey and Giuliani’s past relationship. Both are former U.S. attorneys for the Southern District of New York, and Comey wrote in his recent book that Giuliani’s work there once inspired him.
“Giuliani had extraordinary confidence, and as a young prosecutor I found his brash style exciting, which was part of what drew me to his office,” Comey wrote. “I loved it that my boss was on magazine covers standing on the courthouse steps with his hands on his hips, as if he ruled the world. It fired me up.”
Comey also wrote, though, that his view of Giuliani changed over time, and he said Tuesday he came to believe Giuliani’s confidence “wasn’t leavened with a whole lot of humility.”
Comey has previously tried to rebut Giuliani’s attacks. Last week, for example, he chastised Giuliani for referring to FBI agents in New York as “stormtroopers” during a television interview.
During an appearance Wednesday night on Fox News, Giuliani had decried the FBI’s raid last month of the Manhattan home, office and hotel room of Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen. In doing so, Giuliani referred to the agents as “stormtroopers,” a term originally used to describe specialist soldiers of the German army in World War I and adopted by the Nazi Party for members of its paramilitary wing.
“I know the New York FBI,” Comey wrote on Twitter on Thursday morning. “There are no ‘stormtroopers’ there; just a group of people devoted to the rule of law and the truth. Our country would be better off if our leaders tried to be like them, rather than comparing them to Nazis.”
During an interview with The Post later the same day, Giuliani fired back at Comey.
“He’s a sensitive little baby,” Giuliani said of Comey. “He should be sensitive, because he’s been caught lying over and over again.”
In the conversation Tuesday, Comey also addressed — as he has in the past — his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, what he viewed as troubling interactions with Trump and the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
He notably conceded that part of the reason he did not confront Trump about some of his concerning comments was that “I’m trying to stay in a role for another six years.”
Comey has said that the president, in various talks, asked him to pledge his loyalty and to shut down an investigation into Trump’s former national security adviser, and the former FBI director has drawn some criticism for not immediately telling the president those comments were inappropriate.
Comey was also asked whether he had ever lied about anything in the course of his work as the FBI director. He said he had not, though he acknowledged, “I’ve lied at times in my life,” as he assumed everyone did.
He then quipped, “I lie less, because I no longer have to go to Capitol Hill and say, ‘Senator, it’s good to be with you.’ ”