Comey blasts Trump, GOP after meeting with House lawmakers

A defiant James Comey lambasted congressional Republicans, accusing them of covering for President Trump by refusing to allow the former FBI director to testify publicly about decisions he made during the 2016 presidential election and the first few months of the Trump administration.

“So another day of Hillary Clinton’s emails and the Steele dossier,” Comey told reporters at the conclusion of his closed-door testimony before a House committee, summing up the questions he faced. “This while the president of the United States is lying about the FBI, attacking the FBI and attacking the rule of law in this country. How does that make any sense at all?”

He continued: “Republicans used to understand that the actions of a president matter, that the words of a president matter, the rule of law matters and the truth matters. Where are those Republicans today?”

Republicans who control the House Judiciary and Oversight committees compelled Comey to deliver further testimony before Democrats will assume the gavel in the new year, and, according to Comey, used their time to push narratives pushed by the president.

“At some point, someone has to stand up — and in the face of fear of Fox News, fear of their base, fear of mean tweets — stand up for the values of this country and not slink away into retirement, but stand up and speak the truth,” Comey said. “I find it frustrating to be here answering questions about things that are far less important than the values that this country is built upon.”

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James Comey testifies on Russian interference In US election
Former FBI Director James Comey is sworn in prior to testifying before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 8: People watch a ticker tape display showing headlines of the days news that former FBI Director James Comey will testify at a Senate hearingon Russia and U.S. President Donald Trump on June 8, 2017 in New York City. Comey said that President Donald Trump pressured him to drop the FBI's investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and demanded Comey's loyalty during the one-on-one meetings he had with president. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
The witness table where former FBI Director James Comey will face the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee and testify on June 8 about his meetings with President Trump sits at the ready in Washington, U.S., June 7, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Senator Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, center delivers opening remarks before the start of a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing with James Comey, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), not pictured, in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, June 8, 2017. Comey in prepared remarks to the committee said U.S. President Donald Trump sought his loyalty and urged him to drop the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
TOPSHOT - Former FBI Director James Comey arrives to testify during a US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington,DC, June 8, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
People wait in line hours aheads of time for the start of former FBI Director James Comey's testimony before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 08: Former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara attends the Senate Intelligence Committee where FBI Director James Comey is sent to testify in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill June 8, 2017 in Washington, DC. Comey said that President Donald Trump pressured him to drop the FBI's investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and demanded Comey's loyalty during the one-on-one meetings he had with president. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Former FBI Director James Comey prepares to testify before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on "Russian Federation Efforts to Interfere in the 2016 U.S. Elections" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
People wait in line hours aheads of time for the start of former FBI Director James Comey's testimony before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Preparations are made before former FBI Director James Comey testifies during a US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington,DC, June 8, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
James Comey, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), is sworn in to a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, June 8, 2017. Comey in prepared remarks to the committee said U.S. President Donald Trump sought his loyalty and urged him to drop the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The gavel and placard for Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, sit on a table in the hearing room ahead of testimony by former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, June 8, 2017. Comey in prepared remarks to the committee said U.S. President Donald Trump sought his loyalty and urged him to drop the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Former FBI Director James Comey testifies during a US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 8, 2017. Fired FBI director James Comey took the stand Thursday in a crucial Senate hearing, repeating explosive allegations that President Donald Trump badgered him over the highly sensitive investigation Russia's meddling in the 2016 election. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Capitol police officers stand outside the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing room ahead of testimony by former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, June 8, 2017. Comey in prepared remarks to the committee said U.S. President Donald Trump sought his loyalty and urged him to drop the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Former FBI Director James Comey arrives to testify during a US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington,DC, June 8, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Senator Mark Warner(C)D-VA and Vice Chairman, Intelligence Committee and Senator Richard Burr(R), Chairman, Intelligence Committee greet former FBI Director James Comey as he arrives to testify during a US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington,DC, June 8, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Former FBI Director James Comey takes the oath before he testifies during a US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington,DC, June 8, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Former FBI Director James Comey takes the oath before he testifies during a US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington,DC, June 8, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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Asked about the effect of the president’s tweet over the weekend that labeled his former lawyer Michael Cohen a “rat” for cooperating with federal investigators, Comey was adamant.

“It undermines the rule of law. This is the president of the United States calling a witness who has cooperated with his own Justice Department a ‘rat.’ Say that again to yourself at home and remind yourself where we have ended up.”

The president accused the FBI of breaking into Cohen’s office, a portrayal that is at odds with the fact that the bureau first obtained a search warrant from a judge who ruled there was probable cause to  conduct the raids.

For Comey, Trump’s characterization of the FBI was a call to arms.

“This is not about Republicans or Democrats, this is about what does it mean to be an American,” Comey said, adding, “There’s a set of values that represent the glue of this country and they are under attack by things just like that. We have to stop being numb to it.”

Asked whether Monday’s hearing amounted to a partisan exercise, Comey said he couldn’t be sure what the committee was investigating.

“The questions about Hillary Clinton and the Steele dossier strike me as more of the same. I didn’t learn anything new in there, maybe they did.”

Many conservatives have criticized Comey’s answers to the House committee, noting that he failed in testimony last week to recall what they considered key events. Democrats have also railed against Comey over his handling of the investigation during the 2016 presidential campaign into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email address and server when she was the secretary of state.

“They got truthful testimony from me,” Comey said when asked about that criticism. “When you’re the director of an organization of 38,000, sometimes you don’t know what form people filled out. That’s silliness. And as far as hurting the FBI’s reputation, I hope not. We had to make very hard decisions in 2016. I knew we were going to get hurt by it. The question was how do we reduce the damage.”

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