Former FBI Director James Comey said the reason the probe into then-presidential candidate Donald Trump was started is "plain and transparent" in an interview Tuesday with MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace. Comey said the FBI did not investigate Trump under his command then he should have been fired.
Comey also gave some advice to former special Robert Mueller and how he should answer questions in his testimony to Congress on Wednesday.
"I would either ask him direct leading questions to have him affirm key parts of the report, or I would ask him to read lines from the report -- or both," Comey advised. "And this is a chance for the American people to learn what he found."
"It's too bad that having published a 450 page report that didn't get the job done, but it didn't. Folks don't know what he found. And you can ask him in a simple straightforward way and get those details in front of the American people," he said.
"There were a lot of contacts between the Russians, who were bent on interfering, and the Trump campaign that was keen to benefit from that interference," Comey said. "That's important. Those facts are important for people to know."
"It still makes me slightly sick to my stomach to think that we, at the FBI, had any role in the political process in 2016. I hate that idea. We never want to be involved, but we were stuck in the middle and tried always to make the least bad decision among bad options," Comey lamented.
NICOLLE WALLACE: I heard from a source today familiar with Attorney General Barr thinking that he's nervous about being attacked tomorrow. What sort of exposure does Attorney General Barr have?
JAMES COMEY, FMR. FBI DIRECTOR: Well, I don't think he'll be attacked by the witness or witnesses. I think he may be attacked by Democrats, fairly in my view, for misrepresenting what was in Director Mueller's report and how he handled the entire thing and the way he has slimed (ph) the FBI since.
But frankly I hope there's not a lot of that, because this is a chance for the American people to learn more about what the Special Counsel found. And the fewer attacks and the more questions, the better served the American people will be.
WALLACE: Do you think though that there is a trail of evidence, at least in the letters that have become public from Robert Mueller to Attorney General Barr, that justify at least a couple lines of questioning about what Robert Mueller was so concerned about that drove him to write his former colleagues and longtime friend William Barr two letters?
COMEY: I'm sure there's good reason for people to ask. If I were advising them -- and I'm not, I would urge them not to waste any of their five minutes on that because Bob Mueller is a person of his word. And he said he wasn't going to go beyond his report. So I'd be shocked if he would answer process questions, as troubling as the process might've been that he'll answer them instead of just sticking to his report.
WALLACE: And if you were advising them -- I mean you are, I think, known to be a very effective storyteller. How would you elicit from Robert Mueller, the story of his investigation?
COMEY: I would either ask him direct leading questions to have him affirm key parts of the report, or I would ask him to read lines from the report -- or both. And this is a chance for the American people to learn what he found.
It's too bad that having published a 450 page report that didn't get the job done, but it didn't. Folks don't know what he found. And you can ask him in a simple straightforward way and get those details in front of the American people.
WALLACE: What are the most important details in that first volume about the Trump orbit, the Trump campaigns, contacts with Russians, the very same sorts of intersections between suspicious Russians and Trump campaign advisors, or former campaign advisors, that made you feel like you had to open an investigation into them?
COMEY: Well, the first volume focuses on that Russian interference. And to my mind, the most important finding of the Special Counsel, that there was a long series of contacts between people associated with the Trump campaign and Russians, and that two of those contacts are particularly troubling.
One, his foreign policy advisor talking to someone who is representing the Russians about the prospect of them weaponizing dirt they had on Hilary Clinton in the form of e-mails.
And second, that the senior campaign team took a meeting at Trump Tower in June of 2016 that they were told in writing was part of Russia and its government's efforts to help Mr. Trump. Those are two things that I think will surprise a lot of people who have just listened to the attorney general and the president who haven't read the report.