Former FBI Director James Comey said in his new book he was troubled by the Trump team's lack of interest in Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election and maintained that if given a do-over, he would handle the FBI's re-opening of the Hillary Clinton email probe just days before the election, according to excerpts of his new book.
In the soon-to-be-released A Higher Loyalty, which already has rankled the White House and stirred controversy, ire and unease, Comey wrote that during a Trump Tower meeting that included members of the intelligence community and the president-elect as well incoming Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, revelations about Russia's actions didn't prompt questions "about what the future Russian threat might be. Nor did they ask how the United States might prepare itself to meet that threat,” CNN reported. In fact, only one question was posed – “You found there was no impact on the result, right?”
Comey's last-minute announcement that investigators would revisit the email controversy – after emails were found on laptops seized in a separate probe of disgraced former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner whose wife Huma Abedin was a close Clinton aide – is widely cited by the former Secretary of State's proponents as helping sink her bid for the White House. The FBI believed that emails on a laptop belonging to Abedin contained classified information, according to a search warrant unsealed after the election.
The former FBI director's subsequent firing after he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee looking into that collusion set in motion the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller to lead the investigation of Russian interference – and eventually allegations of possible collusion between the Trump team and Russian operatives.
Trump initially praised Comey's actions at a campaign rally several days before the election. "That was so bad what happened originally, and it took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made in light of the kind of opposition he had where they're trying to protect her from criminal prosecution," then-candidate Trump said.
But the president grew increasingly agitated with the former FBI director after Comey briefed him on prurient claims – cited in an opposition file dossier prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele at the behest of the Clinton campaign – that was circulating and after his testimony before lawmakers in which spurned Trump's attempts to get him to pledge personal loyalty.
"Hindsight is always helpful, and if I had to do it over again, I would do some things differently," Comey wrote in the book, according to CNN. "More important, I would have tried to find a better way to describe Secretary Clinton's conduct... My use of 'extremely careless' naturally sounded to many ears like the statutory language—'grossly negligent'—even though thoughtful lawyers could see why it wasn't the same."