'I'm ashamed of Republicans': James Comey goes in on the GOP during CNN town hall

  • Former FBI director James Comey gave a scathing assessment of the Republican Party during a CNN town hall discussion on Wednesday night.
  • "If the Republicans, if they just close their eyes and imagine Barack Obama waking up in the morning saying someone should be in jail, they will understand that it's not normal," Comey said, referring to Trump's history of suggesting his political opponents should be imprisoned.
  • Comey, once a longtime registered Republican, said he is "ashamed" of the present-day Republican Party.


Former FBI director James Comey gave a scathing assessment of the Republican Party and asked them to envision how they would behave if a Democratic president had the same rhetoric as President Donald Trump.

"If the Republicans, if they just close their eyes and imagine Barack Obama waking up in the morning saying someone should be in jail, they will understand that it's not normal," Comey said at a CNN town hall discussion that aired Wednesday night.

"The president of the United States is attacking the Justice Department, attacking the FBI, attacking the federal judiciary, and pronouncing that private citizens who have been accused of no crime should be in jail," Comey continued.

"Just pause for a second and reflect on that, no matter what your political orientation is. That's not normal. That is an attack on our core values."

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White House Deputy Press Secretary Lyndsey Walters hands out documents to reporters in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House, advising them that there will be no further on camera statements, after US President Donald Trump sacked FBI Director James Comey on May 9, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture shows a copy of the letter by U.S. President Donald Trump firing Director of the FBI James Comey at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Writers work on the story about Director of the FBI James Comey's firing by U.S. President Donald Trump in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Writers work on the story about Director of the FBI James Comey's firing by U.S. President Donald Trump in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
This picture shows a copy of the letter by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to U.S. President Donald Trump recomending the firing of Director of the FBI James Comey, at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Reporters work on the story about Director of the FBI James Comey's firing by U.S. President Donald Trump in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Reporters work on the story about Director of the FBI James Comey's firing by U.S. President Donald Trump in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Deputy White House Press Secretary Lindsay Walters hands out a statement relating to the firing of the Director of the FBI James Comey by U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Deputy White House Press Secretary Lindsay Walters (R) hands out a statement relating to the firing of the Director of the FBI James Comey by U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Deputy White House Press Secretary Lindsay Walters (R) hands out a statement relating to the firing of the Director of the FBI James Comey by U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A journalist looks at a copy of the termination letter to FBI Director James Comey from US President Donald Trump in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House on May 9, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
A journalist looks at a copy of a letter from US Attorney General Jeff Sessions to US President Donald Trump recommending the termination of FBI Director James Comey in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House on May 9, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
White House Deputy Press Secretary Lyndsey Walters speaks to reporters in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House, advising them that there will be no further on camera statements, after US President Donald Trump sacked FBI Director James Comey on May 9, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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Trump has often suggested jailing Comey and Hillary Clinton, his former Democratic presidential rival, during the 2016 election. Comey, a longtime registered Republican who recently left the party, called Trump's controversial rhetoric "not OK and not normal."

Trump has frequently bristled at Comey and accused him of leaking classified information. Following his firing in May 2017, Comey provided a law professor with a memo detailing a conversation he had with Trump. According to Comey's account of the meeting, Trump had asked him to drop the FBI's investigation into former national security adviser Mike Flynn — a request that could be material in an obstruction-of-justice case against Trump.

"We've become numb to it. That is not OK," Comey said of Trump's most-vicious words. "This is the United States of America. The president of the United States is saying, forget me, 'Lots of private citizens shall be in jail, should be in jail, must be in jail.' That is not ok given our commitment to the rule of law."

Comey said earlier this month that he no longer considers himself a Republican and said he was "ashamed" by what the party has become.

"And that's why I urge them, close your eyes and imagine the next president, if it's a Democrat, doing that," Comey said to the crowd.

He continued: "What are you gonna say? You'll be sitting in front of Anderson Cooper saying 'It's outrageous, it's an attack on America.'"

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