The Slatest

Trump’s Lawyers Call Comey “Machiavellian,” Dishonest as Part of Effort to Undermine Former FBI Chief

Former FBI Director James Comey talks backstage before a panel discussion about his book A Higher Loyalty on June 19, 2018 in Berlin, Germany.
Former FBI Director James Comey talks backstage before a panel discussion about his book A Higher Loyalty on June 19, 2018 in Berlin, Germany.
Carsten Koall/Getty Images

President Trump’s legal team is not mincing words when it comes to doing everything in its power to have the special counsel question the integrity of former FBI Director James Comey. The Associated Press revealed Saturday that in a June 27, 2017 letter, Marc Kasowitz, who was then the president’s top lawyer, sharply criticized Comey in an effort to impugn his credibility.

In the 13-page letter, Kasowitz says the “proof is overwhelming” that Comey was “an FBI director unbounded by law and regulation, driven by his own personal interests and emotions.” The “Machiavellian behavior” that had come to mark Comey’s tenure at the FBI “continued … after President Trump was elected,” read the memo.

The memo was written a month after Trump fired Comey in May 2017, initially saying that it was due to the way he handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Trump later acknowledged that “this Russia thing” also played a role in the firing. It was this firing that ended up setting the stage for special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Comey is seen as a critical witness to Mueller’s probe but the letter makes clear that Trump’s lawyers don’t think he should be trusted because he is “plainly motivated by personal and political self-interest.”

News of the memo comes shortly after Rudy Giuliani told the New York Times Trump’s legal team had set new conditions to carry out an interview with the special counsel, making it clear that it is increasingly unlikely the president would end up willingly sitting down with Mueller’s team. Before agreeing to an interview, Mueller must prove he has evidence Trump committed a crime and that his words are essential to finish the investigation, according to the New York Times. The demand marked “the latest sign that the president’s lawyers, who long cooperated quietly with the inquiry even as their client attacked it, have shifted to an openly combative stance,” notes the paper.

Trump, for his part, continued his public campaign against Mueller’s probe on Twitter. The public, Trump wrote, has turned against the “Rigged Witch Hunt” because they understand that “there was no Collusion with Russia.” In his interview with the Times, Giuliani clearly laid out why Trump’s team sees public opinion into Mueller’s investigation as critical. “Nobody is going to consider impeachment if public opinion has concluded this is an unfair investigation, and that’s why public opinion is so important,” Giuliani said.