On Sunday, 20/20 aired an interview with the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that included a handful of claims that might just floor you. During the interview, James Comey boldly argued that Trump is "morally unfit" to lead the country, citing several pointed reasons why he thinks the president is unqualified.
Comey appeared on ABC's 20/20 to discuss his forthcoming new book, A Higher Loyalty, as well as to provide insight into his tenure as FBI Director. Comey acted as the Bureau's director from September 2013, when he was appointed during the Obama administration, until May 2017, when he was controversially fired from the role by President Trump.
During the interview, journalist George Stephanopoulos pointedly asked the former director whether Trump is unfit to be president. In response, Comey did not hold back, saying that, while he believes the president is mentally sound, he has reservations about his moral fitness. As Comey described:
Yes [he is unfit]. But not in the way m-- I often hear people talk about it. 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. I don't think he's medically unfit to be president. I think he's morally unfit to be president.
Comey then went on to describe the striking reasons why he believes Trump is morally unfit to lead the country. As the former FBI Director noted:
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. And that's not a policy statement ...
Comey also added that he believes a president "must embody respect and adhere to the values that are at the core of this country. The most important being truth." He then pointedly added, "This president is not able to do that. He is morally unfit to be president."
In addition to providing a pointed assessment of Trump's presidency during the interview, Comey also reflected on the content of his upcoming book, A Higher Loyalty, and on how he characterized Trump's presidency in forthcoming publication. Indeed, Stephanopoulos asked Comey to reflect on the metaphor of a forest fire that the latter used to describe the Trump presidency in his book.
As Comey explained to Stephanopoulos, "I think of it [Trump's presidency] as a forest fire. That forest fires do tremendous damage. His presidency is doing, and will do, tremendous damage to our norms and our values, especially the truth. And so that's bad. And terrible things happen in forest fires."
However, the former director also emphasized that, despite his concerns about Trump's presidency, he remains hopeful for the future. As Comey noted:
But I'm an optimistic person. And so I choose to see the opportunity in a forest fire 'cause what forest fires do is allow things to grow that never could've grown. Were crowded out, didn't have the light or the water to grow. And so I see already things growing and flourishing that didn't before this fire.
I see the kids marching in the streets, including my own kids, about guns. I see all kinds of civil society getting engaged. I see parents talking to their kids about truth telling and prejudice and bias and respect ... And I also see the Courts and Congress getting involved in ways they hadn't before. So I choose to see opportunity ...
Overall, Comey certainly seems to find Trump's presidency very problematic for a host of reasons. However, the former FBI director remains hopeful for the future because he sees promise in those who are resisting Trump and fighting for change. Indeed, perhaps Comey's book and interview constitute his own ways of advocating for change during the Trump administration.