Comey: 'The FBI Doesn't Spy…Republicans Need to Breathe Into a Paper Bag'

By Susan Jones | May 8, 2019 | 9:42am EDT
Former FBI Director James Comey (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

( - In his first TV interview since the Mueller report was released, former FBI Director James Comey told CBS News Wednesday morning that he disagrees with Attorney General William Barr, who thinks that "spying did occur" on the Trump campaign.

"Yeah, I have no idea what he's talking about," Comey said. "The FBI doesn't spy. The FBI investigates. We investigated a very serious allegation that Americans might be hooked up with the Russian effort to attack our democracy. The Republicans need to breathe into a paper bag.

“If we had confronted the same facts with a different candidate, say, a Democratic candidate where one of their advisers was talking to a foreign adversary's representative about that adversary's interference in our election, they would be screaming for the FBI to investigate, and that's all we did.”

“So the debate is a semantic one," host John Dickerson said. “The FBI was investigating into the Trump campaign, but you're saying they had cause to, and you just wouldn't use the word ‘spy.’"

“Of course,” Comey said. "And just -- people just ought to look at the predication for the opening of that investigation. We should have been fired if we didn't investigate this," Comey said.

None of the three CBS anchors asked Comey about the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation -- the Steele dossier, the apparent attempt to set up George Papadopoulos, and the FISA warrant on Carter Page – all of which happened on Comey’s watch and all of which Attorney General Barr is now looking into.

Asked what he thought of Robert Mueller's report -- and Mueller's decision to lay out possible evidence of obstruction without indicting the president -- Comey said he thinks Mueller was trying to be "principled and fair."

“He was trying to abide by a Department of Justice ruling that says you can't indict a sitting president and reasoned that if I can't indict a sitting president, I ought not to accuse him of a crime because that wouldn't be fair. Given that I can't clear him, I'll just lay out the evidence for a future prosecutor and the Congress."

Comey said the evidence Mueller compiled, including the firing of Comey, is "really concerning."

And he called William Barr's four-page memo outlining the conclusions of the Mueller report "misleading."

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