President Donald Trump slammed ousted FBI Director James Comey for exonerating Hillary Clinton of wrongdoing in the FBI’s investigation into her use of a private email server, according to new excerpts of an interview released Friday.
The president, who’s ratcheted up his verbal attacks against Comey since announcing his dismissal from the bureau on Tuesday, told NBC during an interview Thursday that he disapproved of the director’s decision to not pursue charges against the former Democratic nominee.
“What happened, [Comey] had a lot of pressure put on and he exonerated her,” Trump said. “Should have never exonerated her.”
Trump, who as a presidential candidate frequently blasted Clinton’s email use while she served as secretary of state under former President Barack Obama, questioned how Comey arrived at his conclusion in July that Clinton had broken no laws.
“I happen to have some lawyers that were unrelated lawyers and they were saying ‘wow she’s guilty here, guilty, guilty, guilty,’” he said. “Then [Comey] gets to the end and he said she’s free as a bird.”
Comey announced in July of last year that while Clinton and her staff were “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” he ultimately recommended to the Justice Department that “no charges are appropriate.”
While Trump called some of Comey’s actions during the Clinton probe “disgraceful,” he likewise admitted that the director’s widely followed investigation into Clinton may have benefited his unlikely run into the White House.
“I will tell you that what he did, what Comey did, had good moments for me as a candidate,” he said. “I’m only talking as a candidate, I’m not saying as president, where I want to do what’s right for the country necessarily.”
Trump added: “I’m talking purely as a candidate for me to get votes.”
Earlier this month Clinton partially attributed her November defeat to Comey’s choice to notify Congress less than two weeks from the general election that the FBI was looking into new emails in their investigation.
“I was on the way to winning until a combination of Jim Comey’s letter on October 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me and got scared off,” she said at a charity luncheon on May 2.