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Politics / Issues

James Comey: President Trump Is A 'Forest Fire' That Will Bring Change

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Steve Newborn
/
WUSF Public Media
James Comey speaks to the media before his speech

Former FBI Director James Comey spoke on everything from Hillary Clinton's emails to getting fired by President Trump during a speech Monday in Sarasota.
Comey said during a press conference at Van Wezel Performing Arts Center that Donald Trump doesn't really listen to people when making decisions. And that, he said, is having serious consquences.

"In my book, I describe this president as a forest fire. And I chose that metaphor on purpose, because a forest fire brings tremendous damage and threat, but in the wake of it amazing things grow," he said. "And I see the growth already. I see the growth in young people, I see more women running for office now than ever before, I see military veterans - in both parties."

Comey also said it pains him every time he thinks of the timing of his decision just before the presidential election to let Congress know he was investigating Hillary Clinton's use of personal emails for classified information. But he say it would have been worse if he withheld the information.

"Our goal in the (FBI) bureau is never to be involved in politics," he said. "And so I don't think differently about the decisions, but it makes me sick to my stomach to think that we might have had an impact. And honestly, I hope someday someone will prove that the decisions that I made, that we made, had nothing to do with the outcome."

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Credit Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media
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WUSF Public Media

Comey also said he sometimes wakes up to see the president tweeting that he (Comey) should be in jail. His reaction - he shrugs, but imagines what the public reaction would be if a Democratic president said certain people should be jailed.

"We can't become numb to the constant erosion of core values," he said. "The rule of law is one of those elements of glue that holds us all together. And you should believe that whether you're a Democrat or a Republican or an Independent."

He then spoke for about 40 minutes to a sold-out crowd at Van Wezel. His speech was sponsored by the Ringling College Library Association.
 

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Credit Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media
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WUSF Public Media
James Comey stands next to a portrait of him painted by a Sarasota student