The controversial former FBI director James Comey has said he “feels badly” that Hillary Clinton sees him as the main reason she failed to win the US presidency.
Not so badly, though, that he wouldn’t try to persuade her otherwise.
Both he and Ms Clinton are in Dublin this weekend. Comey is in town to speak at the Irish Film Institute in Temple Bar as part of a promotional tour to plug his explosive political memoir, A Higher Loyalty, while the former secretary of state is in the city to receive an honorary doctorate from Trinity College.
Asked by Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ radio what he might say were he to meet Ms Clinton on the streets of Dublin, Mr Comey said he would like to be able to persuade her that she is wrong in thinking he was the reason she lost the election.
“I’ve never spoken to her, I’ve never met her, but if I did meet her on St Stephen’s Green I would ask her if she’s had the chance to read that part of my book, just about those decisions, because I honestly don’t think you can learn about those decisions and walk away thinking that we were intending to harm her in some way.”
In her own account of her failed presidential bid, Ms Clinton has remarked, “I would have won but for James Comey’s letter on the 28th of October,” referring to the letter Mr Comey sent to the US Congress shortly before the election, saying that he was reopening the investigation into her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state under President Obama.
Mr Comey said he had read Ms Clinton’s book, What Happened, published in 2017, and noted her description of him having “shivved” her, a reference to a homemade prison knife.
“That makes me feel badly that she’s carrying around that kind of pain, and I would say that I hope you would at least read that part of my book because I think it may change your view about whether you were shivved or not.”
Mr Comey was nominated in 2013 by former US president Barack Obama to head the FBI. He rose to notoriety in 2016 when he announced the FBI had found no evidence of criminal intention during Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
She later blamed him for losing the election after he sent Congress a letter 11 days before the vote, informing them that the FBI had found new emails deemed “pertinent to the investigation”. He later said no evidence had been uncovered that could incriminate Ms Clinton.
“I honestly don’t think you can learn about those decisions and walk away thinking we were intending to harm her in some way... there was no bias, we were trying to do the right thing by the values of our institution. Everyone thinks we are on someone’s side, but we are not.” He said he didn’t know whether what the FBI did had an impact on the election or not.
Mr Comey said he was concerned when the newly-inaugurated President Trump asked the then-FBI director for his personal loyalty.
“He explicitly asked for my loyalty, which is a shocking thing for anyone who knows America since Watergate,” he said.
In May 2017, President Trump fired Mr Comey in a move criticised as undermining an investigation into Russian meddling in the election.
Mr Trump has lashed out at Mr Comey and his book, A Higher Loyalty on Twitter, calling him a “slimeball” and the “WORST FBI Director in history, by far!”
In the book, Mr Comey describes Mr Trump as behaving like a Mafia don, a charge he repeated yesterday.
He described the separation of immigrant families along the US-Mexico border as a “shameful, disgraceful episode in the history of my country, utterly inconsistent with who we are as Americans”.
He also said if there is any good to come of putting children in cages, it would be that the American people wake up to what he has been talking about, the threat to American values and that it should bother Republicans, Democrats and Independents.
“People need to wake up to the fact that this president and his approach jeopardises that which makes us Americans.”
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