Former FBI Director James Comey broke his silence on the White House’s efforts to a release a secret Republican memo alleging FBI bias against President Donald Trump, tweeting Thursday that “weasels and liars” will reap what they sow.
“All should appreciate the FBI speaking up. I wish more of our leaders would,” Comey wrote in reference to the agency’s strong opposition to releasing the memo crafted by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee.
Comey’s mention of “the FBI speaking up” is a reference to a statement the bureau issued on Wednesday that effectively said the GOP-authored memo was nonsense. The statement said the bureau had “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”
Both the FBI and Democrats have raised concerns about releasing the memo, which Republicans on the committee voted to release earlier this week. (Trump is not expected to block the memo’s release to the public.) And on Wednesday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the committee’s chairman, made “material changes” to the memo before it went to Trump.
History catches up to the “weasels and liars” in American politics, Comey continued, noting that not many schools or streets are named for former Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.), who led the notorious 1950s probe of suspected communists he believed had infiltrated the U.S. government during the Cold War.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) made the same comparison between Nunes and McCarthy earlier on Thursday.
“The release of this memo is really reminiscent of the darkest days of the McCarthy era, with character assassinations,” he said on CNN, arguing that the release distracts from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Mueller took over the investigation after Trump’s controversial firing of Comey.
Other FBI officials have also come out in strong support of the FBI’s hard line on the memo.
“We are at a very weird stage of our democracy,” former FBI counterterrorism special agent Ali Soufan told The Daily Beast on Thursday. “It’s not just about the FBI. It’s about loyalty to the president, or loyalty to the Constitution. We are at a crossroads. We need to fight back. It’s probably the most important fight in modern American history.”
This story has been updated with more information about the FBI’s statement on Wednesday.