James Comey gave a wide-ranging interview on the Thursday edition of Rachel Maddow's MSNBC show that lasted the entire hour. In this portion, Comey talked about the "organized" campaign against him and his former deputy Andrew McCabe. He also spoke about McCabe's leaks to the media and the authority vested in him to do so.
"Andrew McCabe said when he was fired, 'Here's the reality, I'm being singled out and treated this way because of the role I played, the actions I took, the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey. The release of this inspector general report [against McCabe] was accelerated only after my testimony to the House Intelligence Committee revealed that I would corroborate former director Comey's accounts of his discussions with the president,'" Maddow quoted.
"Do you think that is the case? Are you concerned there's been an orchestrated campaign to target you and other people who could corroborate your testimony as witnesses?" she asked.
"There's certainly been an organized campaign to target me," Comey claimed. "There was definitely an organized campaign to attack Andy McCabe, urge his firing, tear down his reputation, attack his wife. Just shameful attacks from the president directly. And with respect to the others, I know them all well, there's different stories."
Comey reacted to McCabe's claim that his leaks to the media were authorized but would not say if he thought his former deputy improperly spoke to the press. However, Comey said McCabe did not tell him and did not ask him before he infamously leaked to The Wall Street Journal.
"He says everything he did was within his job description, it was to preserve the public standing of the FBI. He says it was all authorized. Clearly, the inspector general doesn't agree with him on that. While you were director of the FBI and he was your deputy, was there clarity under your leadership about talking to the press, about the issue of leaks, about who could authorize people to discuss things with reporters?" Maddow asked.
"I think so," an unsure Comey answered. "There were two people who could authorize disclosures, the director and the deputy director. So, Andy had the authority to speak to the media and authorize people to speak to the media."
"Do you think he improperly spoke to the media in that compacity?" Maddow followed up.
"I don't know for sure," he said. "I know that he didn't tell me about it, didn't ask me about it before he did it. I think the inspector general's report is right in that respect. And I would have expected that. But I think he had the authority to do that and I think if he were here he would say I didn't need to talk to the boss because I had the authority to do that. And that's a hard one because given all that was going on at that point, I would have expected him to talk to me but as a matter of rule he had the authority."