In his first major TV interview since being fired as FBI director, James Comey slammed President Donald Trump as a serial liar who tells "baffling, unnecessary" falsehoods.
Comey said: "Sometimes he's lying in ways that are obvious, sometimes he's saying things that we may not know are true or false and then there's a spectrum in between."
Comey is on a public-relations tour in support of his new book, "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership," which is due out on April 17.
Former FBI director James Comey slammed President Donald Trump as a serial liar who tells "baffling, unnecessary" falsehoods. Comey made those comments during an ABC News interview that aired Sunday, his first major TV interview since being fired in May last year.
Comey said he discovered that Trump "frequently" gives a "series of assertions," — like claims that his inauguration crowd was the largest in history, and claims that he never made fun of a disabled reporter despite video evidence to the contrary — which Comey calls "baffling, unnecessary lies."
"That his inauguration crowd was bigger than that Barack Obama's first inauguration. That's just not true. That's not a perspective, that's not a view, that's just a lie."
"And yet he would say it and, "Everyone agrees, everyone says, everyone believes."
When George Stephanopoulos asked Comey if there were moments when he thought the president was a liar, Comey replied: "Yes, yeah. I had, obviously, concerns about that earlier, having watched him on the campaign that he is someone who is — for whom the truth is not a high value."
Citing several examples, including Trump's inauguration crowd-size claims, Comey continued: "Sometimes he's lying in ways that are obvious, sometimes he's saying things that we may not know are true or false and then there's a spectrum in between."
Comey said that is part of the reason why he chose to make memos documenting his conversations with Trump, like he did after Trump asked him to drop the FBI investigation into his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
"The conversation will likely come back some day and he may well lie about it," Comey said. "And so I need to remember exactly what was said there. It could be evidence of a crime. It was really important that it be well documented."
In his book, Comey likens Trump to a "forest fire" that is going to do "tremendous damage" to the norms of the country.
"How do we put it out?" Stephanopoulos asked.
"We put it out first by not becoming numb to the fact that the truth is being assailed every day. By not deciding that it's just too much to pay attention to because that's the path to losing truth as the central value in this country," Comey said.
He continued: "So all of us have to constantly be involved and call it out when we see the truth endangered, when we see lying."