White House stands by Comey criticism

White House stands by Comey criticism

Then-FBI Director James Comey testifies before the House Oversight Committee on July 7, 2016. President Donald Trump fired him on May 9, 2017. The talk about Comey's book has mostly focused on Trump but those discussions comprise only a small part of the book. (Danielle Wilde)

WASHINGTON — White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters Friday that President Donald Trump has “every right” to call out former FBI Director James Comey, particularly in light of what she described as glowing media coverage.

“We shouldn’t be praising him. We should be putting him down. We should be taking him off of air,” Sanders said.

The comments mark the White House’s particularly heated response to Comey embarking on a promotional tour to support his new book, A Higher Loyalty, which is critical of Trump.

The president started his day by lashing out at Comey on Twitter, describing him as an “untruthful slime ball.”

Sanders continued the president’s line of criticism Friday, reading lengthy, prepared statements condemning the former director.

“The American people see right through the blatant lies of a self-admitted leaker. This is nothing more than a poorly executed PR stunt from Comey to desperately rehabilitate his tattered reputation and enrich his own bank account by peddling a book that belongs in the bargain bin of the fiction section,” Sanders said. “One of the president’s greatest achievements will go down as firing Director James Comey.”

Trump dismissed Comey last May, purportedly for how he conducted himself amid an investigation into then Democratic-candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

Not long after, Trump told NBC News that he decided to fire Comey before the president received recommendations from his deputy attorney general, and cited frustration with the investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Comey has since gone public with claims that Trump strongly implied that he should drop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, something he revealed by sending his private notes to a colleague for publication and then disclosing it during Congressional testimony.

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