Speaking about his actions during the 2016 election on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Tuesday night, James Comey said, “I knew we were going to piss off at least half of partisans. It never occurred to me we would piss off all of them.”
That fear became a reality Wednesday morning on The View when Comey took heat from each of the show’s co-hosts, from Meghan McCain on the right, who told him J. Edgar Hoover was “rolling over in his grave” over his “tell-all” book to Joy Behar on the left, who blamed Comey for blowing up Hillary Clinton’s campaign just days before the election.
The former FBI director’s book tour for his new memoir A Higher Loyalty hit some rough waters when Comey sat down for what he may have thought would be a less rigorous examination of his decision making both before and after Trump was elected. “This is the interview that meant the most to my wife,” he told them at the top, “so I’m actually a little nervous, because I don’t want to screw this up.”
Unsurprisingly, it was McCain was who hardest on Comey from the start. “I think that maybe J. Edgar Hoover is rolling over in his grave at saying the types of things you’re saying and revealing the types of things you’re revealing,” she said. “He didn’t write a tell-all book when he left.” To which moderator Whoopi Goldberg laughed and shot back, “He’s the wrong guy to bring up.”
Comey pushed back on the notion that the book was a “tell-all” and reminder McCain that he had the FBI review it before it was published to make sure he was not revealing anything sensitive. “I think J. Edgar Hoover would say, ‘You followed the rules and you were transparent,’” he said. “I’m trying to tell a story that in a lot of places doesn’t reflect well on me but is open and honest.”
In the next segment, Comey faced criticism from Behar on his decision to reopen the Clinton email investigation 11 days before the election because he assumed she was going to win. “Should the FBI have taken it upon itself to guess who was going to win?” she asked. “That seems out of your purview.”
Comey denied that he was basing his decision on polls, and when he said he wasn’t “consciously” thinking that Clinton would win, McCain came at him from the other side, asking, “Isn’t that what you said to George Stephanopoulos?”
“What I said to George Stephanopoulos is, everybody was assuming she was going to be president,” Comey replied. “I intentionally didn’t think about that. But because it was part of the air, could that have shaped my thinking? Because it was just an underlying assumption, and the honest answer is of course it could have.”
“I want to believe you’re not a political person,” McCain told Comey, before listing off what she viewed as evidence of liberal bias in his book. When Comey tried to make a distinction between “politics” and “values,” McCain shot back that his wife and daughters participated in the Women’s March. “You sound like a political commentator to me,” she said.
Comey said in response that he doesn’t care whether people support Democrats or Republicans—“because I’m not either”—but instead hopes the conversation can start with “values.”
“All we are in this country are a collection of values,” he said. “And that’s what unites Republicans and Democrats.”
Finally, co-host Sara Haines confronted Comey over his decision to include observations about Trump’s skin tone, hair style, and hand size in the book. “If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t put that paragraph in,” he admitted.
“You know what? There’s always the paperback,” Behar suggested.