“There was no treason. There was no attempted coup. Those are lies, and dumb lies at that.”
Those are the words of former FBI Director James Comey, in a Washington Post op-ed published late Tuesday that fiercely defends the agency’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s potential ties with Russia during the 2016 election.
President Donald Trump has blasted the investigation as “spying,” and has accused Comey and others at the FBI of committing treason. Trump fired Comey in 2017. Last week, Trump gave Attorney General William Barr new powers to review the origins of the Russia investigation and potentially release classified information related to it as part of a wider probe over whether the FBI improperly targeted the Trump campaign.
“The president is a liar,” Comey said in his op-ed.
“We must call out his lies . . . We must constantly return to the stubborn facts,” he wrote.
Comey said that the FBI learned about possible contact between Trump campaign officials and Russians in late July 2016.
“Of course, nobody from the Trump campaign told us this (or about later Russian approaches)” he wrote.
“But when we finally learned of it in late July, what should the FBI have done? Let it go? Go tell the Trump campaign? Tell the press? No. Investigate, to see what the facts were. We didn’t know what was true. Maybe there was nothing to it, or maybe Americans were actively conspiring with the Russians. To find out, the FBI would live up to its name and investigate.”
As for why the investigation was kept under wraps: “If there was nothing to it, we didn’t want to smear Americans. If there was something to it, we didn’t want to let corrupt Americans know we were on to them. So, we kept it secret. That’s how the FBI approaches all counterintelligence cases,” Comey said.
Comey added that the fact that the investigation remained secret through the 2016 election proved it was not out to derail Trump, when a leak could have proved harmful to his candidacy. “Worst deep-state conspiracy ever,” Comey wrote, sarcastically.