Former FBI director James Comey sat down with Savannah Guthrie on Today Wednesday morning, just one day after his tell-all A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership hit shelves. The interview took a decidedly different tone than his chat with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday night’s 20/20 airing on rival network ABC.
Guthrie grilled Comey on everything from taking personal jabs at Trump’s “orange” appearance, to whether or not his books compromises Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, to potentially costing Hillary Clinton the 2016 election with his email bombshell 11 days prior. The latter of which, Comey admitted that he could have probably done things differently.
“Not to try to figure it out but I’ve read a lot of that stuff and look, it makes me feel nauseated, which I guess is the right way to say it,” he told Guthrie. “It may sound strange to say but it wouldn’t change how I thought about the decision at the time. I’m on October 28th, I’ve got facts in front of me and a decision to make. I wish I had a time machine but I don’t, and I didn’t.”
Later, Guthrie pivoted and asked Comey about what he previously revealed in his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee last June, when the president demanded his loyalty by asking him to drop the Michael Flynn investigation.
“Why in all of those situations, did James Comey of all people, not stand up to the president?” she asked. “You were the person most famous for your time as the Deputy Attorney general going in to the bedside of [U.S. Attorney General under George W. Bush] John Ashcroft and standing up to the White House. I mean, that’s your reputation!”
“Well I guess the question is what does ‘standing up’ mean in that context,” he answered. “I stared at him, didn’t blink, didn’t make a sound.” Guthrie continued to press however, on why he didn’t call out the president for being inappropriate with his demands.
“Yeah, maybe, that’s a fair question,” Comey admitted. “If he didn’t know it was inappropriate then why did he kick out the Vice President and my boss, Attorney General, and so I don’t know whether or not I should have done it differently, but in the moment it seemed like the thing to do was just, make sure you’re not agreeing to do something inappropriate.”
To be fair to Comey, being asked to swear allegiance to a sitting president is probably not the kind of thing many high-level government employees typically prepare themselves for.