Comeypalooza continued Sunday night when the defenestrated FBI director sat down with ABC's George Stephanopoulos for an interview. James Comey is making the rounds to promote his new book, A Higher Loyalty, which deals with the crucial decisions he made during the 2016 election-including making public the Hillary Clinton email investigation but not the probe into ties between Donald Trump's associates and the Russians-and his subsequent interactions with President Trump.
It was the latter which brought out the prime takeaway Sunday night. Having run through the litany of Trumpian transgressions, most notably his attempts to interfere in the Justice Department and the Russia probe and his complete disregard for truth in the public discourse, Stephanopoulos asked Comey the key question.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You write that President Trump is unethical, untethered to the truth. Is Donald Trump unfit to be president?
JAMES COMEY: Yes. But not in the way m-- I often hear people talk about it. I don't buy this stuff about him being mentally incompetent or early stages of dementia. He strikes me as a person of above average intelligence who's tracking conversations and knows what's going on. I don't think he's medically unfit to be president. I think he's morally unfit to be president.
Comey on Trump: "I don't think he's medically unfit to be president. I think he's morally unfit to be president. pic.twitter.com/cPggiZFInk- Axios (@axios) April 16, 2018
A person who sees moral equivalence in Charlottesville, who talks about and treats women like they're pieces of meat, who lies constantly about matters big and small and insists the American people believe it, that person's not fit to be president of the United States, on moral grounds. And that's not a policy statement. Again, I don't care what your views are on guns or immigration or taxes.
There's something more important than that that should unite all of us, and that is our president must embody respect and adhere to the values that are at the core of this country. The most important being truth. This president is not able to do that. He is morally unfit to be president.
Good news, folks: the former FBI director does not believe his old boss has dementia. In less good news, he thinks he is a pathological liar whose behavior is destroying the norms that undergird our democratic republic. Not only that, Comey believes Trump is a "stain" on all those around him:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to get back to the story -- but one more question. I think it's to an important point that-- when you're talking about being an ethical leader, at what point do people serve in order to protect the institution, to protect the country, and at what point does it cross over into enabling bad behavior?
JAMES COMEY: That is the question that people have to ask themselves. And-- and there's no easy way to define it in the abstract, that you-- the challenge of this president is that he will stain everyone around him. And the question is, how much stain is too much stain and how much stain eventually makes you unable to accomplish your goal of protecting the country and serving the country? So I don't know. And it-- it-- it would be hard for anybody to answer that. But everyone's gotta answer that individually.
Considering more of the president's associates turn up under investigation or indicted by the day-some of whom are now cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe after getting caught lying to the FBI-this notion of a stain doesn't seem far off. The question will be whether that stain is allowed to seep into the halls of the Justice Department and erode, any more than it already has, the rule of law in this country. That's a question that Congress, and congressional Republicans in particular, will soon need to answer.
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