James Comey on why he isn’t Republican anymore: ‘You cannot have a president who is a chronic liar’

Former FBI director James Comey was on CNN Thursday night, doing a town hall event moderated by Anderson Cooper. Thursday marked the two-year anniversary of Comey’s firing by Donald Trump. Comey talked about a few topics that could be boiled down to one specific thing: Donald Trump is every bit the scumbag you think he is and should probably be charged with obstruction of justice. But one particularly poignant moment stood out. Asked by an audience member why he thought Trump’s personal flaws should be considered by voters in this upcoming 2020 election, Comey had this to say.

Comey: I wouldn’t frame it that way. I think we should start the way I always thought Republicans said we should start—with the nature and character of the leader, and his respect for or attacks on our values, truth and the rule of law among them. That’s the most important level of American politics. Then the level down from that is important policy questions. To my mind, this question at the top level is so obviously answered. 

You cannot have a president who is a chronic liar. I don’t care what your passions about tax cuts, or regulations, or immigration—I respect difference there. But the President of the United States cannot be someone who lies constantly. I thought the Republicans agreed with that. It’s one of the reasons I am no longer a Republican.

I hope the American people will realize we have to start at that values level, no matter what our political background, and answer that question first. And if that’s a close question in an election, then get to the important policy differences.

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