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James Comey Defends His Book's Portrayal of Trump: 'I Didn't Think of Them as Shots, & I Still Don't'

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Former FBI Director James Comey defended his unflattering descriptions of President Donald Trump in his new book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership in an interview on NBC's Today on Wednesday morning.


Today host Savannah Guthrie asked Comey if he had "scores to settle" due to the visceral detail included in his book. Guthrie referenced the "raw" nature of the book, and wondered if Comey was harboring "feelings of bitterness."

"It is raw in the sense that I find it really painful to relive," Comey said. "Reading that book, doing the audio book left me physically drained, but I really don't feel a sense of anger. I'm very worried, actually."

Comey's book, which was released on Tuesday, has drawn enormous media attention because of some details he included about his impressions of then President-Elect Trump. Comey refers to Trump as "unethical" who is "untethered to truth and institutional values." Comey also notes Trump's appearance, and "average-sized hands."

Guthrie asked Comey, "did you stoop?" in reference to the personal jabs taken at Trump in the book. "I really don't think so, maybe I'm missing it," he said. When Guthrie asked him whether he'd "diminished himself," Comey said, "I hope not."

"His tie was too long as it always is," Comey wrote in his book. "He looked slightly orange up close with small white half-moons under his eyes, which I assume are from tanning goggles."

Comey explained that his specificity in detailing Trump's appearance and demeanor were meant to give readers an accurate picture of Comey's experiences.

"I didn't think of them as shots, and I still don't," he said on Today."I'm trying to be an author, something I've never been before, and bring the reader into the scene.... I'm not trying to pick on President Trump,"

Comey was fired by Trump last May after he refused to drop the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. His firing, which former Presidential Adviser Steve Bannon called "the biggest mistake in American political history," led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his ensuing probe into possible collusion between Trump's presidential campaign and the Russian government. Mueller's probe has budded off into criminal investigations of Trump's associates and business dealings.

On The View, Comey discussed why he is no longer a Republican.

"I used to think that at the heart of being a conservative...was first that character matters and second that values matter most of all. And I don't know where that is today in the Republican Party."

Yesterday, Comey told NPR he fears the country will become "numb" to internal threats to American democracy and rule of law.

"There is a danger that we will become numb to it and we will stop noticing the threats to our norms, the threats to the rule of law and the threats, most of all, to the truth."

Shortly after Comey's Today interview, Trump sent out a tweet defending his decision to fire "Slippery James Comey," who he calls "the worst FBI Director in history."

"Slippery James Comey, the worst FBI Director in history, was not fired because of the phony Russia investigation where, by the way, there was NO COLLUSION (except by the Dems)!"

At the time, Trump told MSNBC's Lester Holt that he fired Comey because he believed the Russia investigation was a hoax.

"In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, 'you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.'"

Mueller and his team are expected to release a report in the coming weeks outlining their findings over whether Trump obstructed justice when he fired Comey.