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WATCH: CNN Host Suggests 'Lock Her Up' Is Hate Speech, Should Be Banned

During an interview with former FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, CNN host Christiane Amanpour said that Trump supporters chanting "lock her up" qualified as "hate speech" and went as far as suggesting that the government should have banned people from saying it.

The controversial remarks came when Amanpour began asking Comey about the FBI's criminal investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"Of course, 'Lock her up' was a feature of the 2016 Trump campaign," Amanpour said. "Do you, in retrospect, wish that people like yourself, the head of the FBI, I mean, the people in charge of law and order – had shut down that language? That it was dangerous potentially, that it could have created violence, that it’s kind of hate speech? Should that have been allowed?"

"That’s not a role for government to play. The beauty of this country is, people can say what they want, even if it’s misleading and it’s demagoguery," Comey responded. "The people who should have shut it down were Republicans who understand the rule of law and the values that they claim to stand for. Shame on them, but it wasn't a role for government to play."

Comey has been widely criticized by Democrats and Republicans over his handling of the investigation into Clinton and the opening of the FBI's counterintelligence operation into the Trump campaign.

WATCH:

Partial transcript from the interview provided via NewsBusters:

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Do you ever think that you might be responsible for the election of President Trump? Does that keep you up at night?

JAMES COMEY: Sure, and I hope some day somebody proves that what we did was irrelevant. But as I said, when we were were making the choice between the two paths –

AMANPOUR: But it kind of was – sorry – it was irrelevant because you came out and said, "It's fine, there's nothing there."

COMEY: Right. Well, it turned out it didn't chagne our judgment with respect to Secretary Clinton. There was plenty there, but yeah, it ended up not having an impact on our investigative judgment. But again, I hope we had no impact, I hope it's proves it was irrelevant. But all it does is increase the pain; it doesn't change how I think about the decision. My view, and again, good people can see this differently, but my view and the view of my team was, we cannot conceal from the American people that the investigation we told them and fought to tell them is done, is done, is done – is not done, and the result could change. We just couldn't do that.

But look, I get – I respect her view, I accept the criticism. It doesn't change how I think about it, though.

AMANPOUR: Are you worried in hindsight that you didn’t bust any norm, or you didn’t tell the people that you were investigating Russian interference before the election?

COMEY: No.

AMANPOUR: Because that’s really dramatic.

COMEY: Sure, but now looking back through the lens of the conclusion from the Special Counsel that there apparently wasn’t a case there, it just, to my mind, reinforces that we made the prudent decision.

We didn’t know whether we had anything in the summer of 2016. We weren’t investigating the candidate. We had indications that one of his campaign advisers had spoken to a Russian operative months earlier about the fact that the Russians had dirt on Hillary. That was it. That was important basis to investigate, but we never considered making a disclosure, because what would we disclose? It was all classified to begin with, but we didn’t know whether was any fire to go along with the smoke. It would have been irresponsible in the extreme. And so, I just – I don’t think that’s a fair criticism of us. Important and fair discussion about whether we should have said more about the overarching Russian effort, but that’s a separate question.

(...)

AMANPOUR: Of course, “Lock her up” was a feature of the 2016 Trump campaign. Do you, in retrospect, wish that people like yourself, the head of the FBI, I mean, the people in charge of law and order – had shut down that language? That it was dangerous potentially, that it could have created violence, that it’s kind of hate speech? Should that have been allowed?

COMEY: That’s not a role for government to play. The beauty of this country is, people can say what they want, even if it’s misleading and it’s demagoguery. The people who should have shut it down were Republicans who understand the rule of law and the values that they claim to stand for. Shame on them, but it wasn't a role for government to play.

 
 
 

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