WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) — President Donald Trump lashed out at James Comey on Friday, calling the former FBI director an “untruthful slime ball” who should be held accountable for leaks – and hours later approved a recommendation to pardon I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who was convicted of perjury in relation to the 2003 leak of a CIA agent’s identity.
Although former President George W. Bush commuted Libby’s sentence in 2008, and Libby was spared jail time, the conviction remained on his record, and he had to pay a substantial fine. His case became a cause celebre for many conservatives who feel he was unfairly targeted by the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald.
Libby was linked to the naming of Valerie Plame, a CIA operation officer who is married to former U.S. diplomat Joseph C. Wilson.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was asked whether the president was “sending some sort of signal to the (Special Counsel Robert) Mueller investigation or about the Mueller investigation” by pardoning Libby.
“Not at all. One thing has nothing to do with the other,” she replied. “Every case should be reviewed on their own merits.”
President Trump took to Twitter earlier Friday, saying it was his “great honor” to fire Comey.
“James Comey is a proven LEAKER & LIAR. Virtually everyone in Washington thought he should be fired for the terrible job he did-until he was, in fact, fired. He leaked CLASSIFIED information, for which he should be prosecuted. He lied to Congress under OATH,” the president said.
Trump called Comey a “weak” and “untruthful slime ball who was, as time has proven, a terrible Director of the FBI.”
“His handling of the Crooked Hillary Clinton case, and the events surrounding it, will go down as one of the worst ‘botch jobs’ of history,” the president said. “It was my great honor to fire James Comey!”
In his new book, Comey called Trump “unethical” and blasted the president as “untethered to truth.” He goes on to say Trump’s leadership is “ego driven and about personal loyalty.”
Sanders called the former FBI director a disgraced partisan hack Friday.
“This is nothing more than a poorly executed PR student by Comey to desperately rehabilitate his tattered reputation and enrich his own bank account by peddling a book that belongs in the bargain bin of the fix-it section,” she said.
“We know that he’s selling books and we also know that he’s had a difficult time completely telling the truth under oath,” said White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.
Comey also wrote the Oval Office meeting where he said the president asked him for his loyalty felt like “Sammy the Bull’s Cosa Nostra induction ceremony,” referring to mobster Sammy Gravano, one of John Gotti’s old henchmen.
“Very inappropriate,” said Angelo Vivilo, of the Columbus Citizens Foundation. “Whatever he thinks about the president in a negative way he can talk about it without using those terms.”
The Republican National Committee, set to launch an aggressive response to the book, has unveiled a new website, LyinComey.com, to undermine his credibility, CBS2 reported.
Comey is a Republican and was first appointed to the FBI director’s job by former President George W. Bush.
“Syria’s responsible. We are all in agreement,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said Friday.
Also Friday, the Justice Department inspector general issued a scathing report accusing former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe of repeatedly misleading investigators.
Trump took to Twitter, saying McCabe “lied, lied, lied” and “is Comey.”