Ex-FBI Chief James Comey Says He Wish He Had Stood up More to Donald Trump

Ex-director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey, has rowed back on an earlier call he had made for President Joe Biden to think about pardoning Donald Trump and has also admitted that he wished he had stood up more to the former president.

Comey welcomed the impeachment of the former president whom he believed should be convicted on the article of inciting his supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol because it would be "an important accountability measure."

However, when asked whether he still held the opinion he gave earlier this month that Biden should consider issuing a pardon to allow the country to move forward, Comey said: "I think it is a close question."

"On balance, it would be better for the United States if the Department of Justice didn't prosecute him for his obstructions of justice and his extortions and his other crimes committed while he was president. Whether President Biden pardons him is another question," he told British program, Channel 4 News.

Ex-FBI Director James Comey
Ex-FBI Director James Comey speaks at Harvard Kennedy School on February 24, in Boston. He says that he wished he had stood up more to former President Donald Trump, before he was fired. Paul Marotta/Getty Images

"I think it's important that we as a country not give him center stage in our nation's capital for the next three years which a prosecution would," he added.

Presidential pardons do not affect state law and Comey said the former president should still be "pursued by local police and prosecutors in New York."

This refers to investigations into Trump's financial affairs by Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance and a probe into the Trump Organization by New York attorney general, Letitia James.

Trump had only been in office for just over three months when he fired Comey in May 2017. Comey's book Saving Justice: Truth, Transparency and Trust, outlines his work with Trump and the investigation into the email use of former Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton. He also explains why he refused to drop an investigation of Michael Flynn, Trump's first national security adviser, over his links to Russia.

Comey told Channel 4 News that in hindsight, he did "think differently about some of my encounters with President Trump."

"For example, when he demanded loyalty and we ended up on this odd compromise where he demanded 'honest loyalty.' I should have stood up and said 'no' you are not going to get any kind of loyalty from the FBI director—but instead I compromised to avoid a conflict with him," he said.

"I don't want to be too tough on myself because I stood up well enough to get fired, but there are things like that I would do differently."