In an interview published on Tuesday in The Guardian, former FBI Director James Comey stated that “the Republican party needs to be burned down or changed.” Comey added, “Donald Trump conveys a menace, a meanness in private that is not evident in most public views of him.”
Referencing the breach of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, Comey told The Guardian that the occurrence was so dire it required a 9/11 commission to examine it:
I was sickened to watch an attack on the literal and symbolic heart of our democracy, and, as a law enforcement person, I was angered. I am mystified and angry that Capitol Hill wasn’t defended. It’s a hill! If you wanted to defend it, you could defend it, and for some reason it was not defended. I think that’s a 9/11-size failure and we’re going to need a 9/11-type commission to understand it so that we don’t repeat it.
Comey blamed Trump for the Capitol riot, accusing him of having “attack[ed] the building from the outside to weaken its foundation” over the last five years. The Capitol Hill riot was ultimately Trump’s fault. The Republican Party, he said, needs to be “burned down or changed”:
The Republican party needs to be burned down or changed. Something is shifting and I’m hoping it’s the fault breaking apart, a break between the Trumpists and those people who want to try and build a responsible conservative party, because everybody should know that we need one. Who would want to be part of an organization that at its core is built on lies and racism and know-nothingism? It’s just not a healthy political organization.
Comey said of Trump as a person that he “rarely stops talking in a way that not only is filled with constant lying, but draws those to whom he’s speaking into an involuntary circle of assent.” Along with his revered role as president, said Comey, this quality allows Trump to “bend people.”
It’s a really hard thing to resist. I bent in small ways that I convinced myself were tactical. I gave silence in response to a request for loyalty and I said: “I’ll be honest,” and then when I got “honest loyalty” I agreed to that to get out of that conversation.
Comey championed the idea of the Senate convicting Trump after he’s out of office and then “letting local prosecutors in New York pursue him”:
At the end of the day, I still come down in the place that the best interests of the country would not be served by giving him that Donald Trump daily drama in our nation’s capital for three years as part of the United States versus Trump. That would give him the oxygen and the attention that he so craves and make it so much harder for a new president to heal the country both spiritually and physically, and to get some people out of the fog of lies that they’re trapped in.
I just think, on balance, the country is better served by impeaching him, convicting him in the Senate and letting local prosecutors in New York pursue him for the fraudster he was before he took office. That mixture accommodates the important public interest of the rule of law being asserted, but doesn’t do it in a way that makes it impossible for a new president to move the country on.