In a book tour interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, fired FBI director James Comey comments on reports that the Justice Department inspector general recommends former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe be criminally charged for lying to internal investigators about leaking.
McCabe is Comey's former deputy. "Given that the IG's report reflects interactions McCabe had with me and other FBI senior executives, I could well be a witness," Comey said.
"I don't know if there is a criminal referral, what is happening, but that is accountability," he also said. "I like [McCabe] very much as a person, but sometimes good people do things they shouldn't do."
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: Thanks for having me here, Jake.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN: So let's talk about this breaking news. CNN just breaking the story, the Justice Department Inspector General sending a criminal referral to the U.S. Attorney in D.C. regarding your former deputy, Andrew McCabe. They did this after releasing a report concluding McCabe repeatedly lied to investigators and to you about a leak to the Wall Street Journal, in which he confirmed -- or he had people leak to the Wall Street Journal, confirming the existence of an investigation into the -- the Clinton Foundation.
If they ultimately bring a case against Andrew McCabe, would you be a witness for the prosecution?
COMEY: Potentially. I don't know whether the reporting is accurate. I know it's CNN reporting, but I don't know it of my own accord. But sure, given that the IG's report reflects interactions that Andy McCabe had with me and other FBI senior executives, I could well be a witness.
TAPPER: You express a lot of horror in the book when public officials, or even celebrities, lie to investigators, whether David Petraeus, or Scooter Libby, or...
COMEY: Martha Stewart.
TAPPER: Martha Stewart.
TAPPER: So I would assume that you would be upset at Andrew McCabe. I haven't really heard you criticize him the same you've criticized those others.
COMEY: Well, I didn't -- I hope I didn't criticize them personally. I think it's very important...
TAPPER: No, the act, though.
COMEY: Oh sure, the act is one I take very seriously, and so does the Department of Justice. What's gone on so far has been the accountability mechanisms of the department working, because it's a department that's committed to the truth. And so it's working -- I don't know whether there's a criminal referral, what will happen, but that's part of accountability. An examination of what the consequences should be if there was material lying.
TAPPER: But how do you feel about your former deputy, according to the Inspector General, lying? Lying to you, lying to investigators, for a leak that the Inspector General said was only motivated to preserve his own reputation, having nothing to do with the FBI or the public's right to know.
COMEY: Conflicted. I like him very much as a person, but sometimes even good people do things they shouldn't do. I've read the report. I'm not the judge in the case. I'm not the discipline decision maker in the case. I think it is accountability mechanisms working, and they should work, because it's not acceptable, in the FBI or the Justice Department, for people to lack candor. It's something we take really seriously.
Watch the full interview: