Photo: Ralph Alswang/ABC via Getty Images
In an exclusive interview with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on "20/20" tonight, former FBI director James Comey said that Trump is "morally unfit to be president" and that the American public was "duty bound" to vote him out of office in 2020.
His key line: “You cannot have, as president of the United States, someone who does not reflect the values that I believe Republicans treasure and Democrats treasure and independents treasure. That is the core of this country. That’s our foundation. And so impeachment, in a way, would short-circuit that.”
- On impeaching Trump: "I think impeaching and removing Donald Trump from office would let the American people off the hook and have something happen indirectly that I believe they're duty bound to do directly. People in this country need to stand up and go to the voting booth and vote their values."
- On Charlottesville: "A person who sees moral equivalence in Charlottesville, who talks about and treats women like they're pieces of meat, who lies constantly about matters big and small and insists the American people believe it, that person's not fit to be president of the United States, on moral grounds."
- On Trump's intelligence: "I don't buy this stuff about him being mentally incompetent or early stages of dementia. He strikes me as a person of above average intelligence who's tracking conversations and knows what's going on."
- On the most salacious allegations in the Steele dossier: "I honestly never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but I don't know whether the current president of the United States was with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow in 2013. It's possible, but I don't know."
- On investigating Hillary Clinton's emails: "Of course, at the time, I had no idea that I could make both halves angry at us, but we'll come to that later. But the deputy director who was a great deputy director and a longtime special agent, looked at me and said, 'You know you're totally screwed, right?' And I smiled. And I said, 'Yup. Nobody gets out alive.'
- On his comment that Clinton exercised "extreme carelessness:" "I wasn't trying to go easy on her or hard on her. I was trying to be honest and clear with the American people. What she did was really sloppy."
- On Trump's reluctance to criticize Vladimir Putin: "I can understand the arguments why the president of the United States might not want to criticize the leader of another country...But you would think that in private-- talking to the F.B.I. director, whose job it is to thwart Russian attacks, you might acknowledge that this enemy of ours is an enemy of ours. But I never saw. And so I don't know the reason. I really don't."
- On his plane-ride home after being fired from the FBI: "I took a bottle of red wine out of my suitcase that I was bringing back from California, a California pinot noir, and I drank red wine from a paper coffee cup...And then I-- as-- we got close to the airport in Washington, I asked the pilots could I sit up with them, 'cause I'd never done it...And-- and then we shook hands with tears in our eyes and then I left and get driven home."
- On possible obstruction of justice: "I woke up in the middle of the night and the thought hit me like a lightening bold, like, 'Wait a minute. If there are tapes, he will be heard on that tape in the Oval Office asking me to let it go. There is corroboration or could be corroboration for the thing we thought we'll never be able to corroborate...'Of possible obstruction of justice. Somebody's gotta go get those tapes."