Why James Comey is concerned about Trump's post-presidency intelligence briefings

"The guy’s a lying demagogue who you can’t trust," the former FBI chief said.

January 15, 2021, 4:41 PM

After a mob of President Donald Trump's supporters held a siege on the U.S. Capitol and Trump was subsequently impeached for inciting an insurrection, former FBI Director James Comey expressed concern about the general intelligence briefings Trump may be entitled to receiving after his term ends.

"The View" co-host Ana Navarro told Comey on Friday's show that she was bothered by the possibility that, once he leaves office, Trump could divulge sensitive information to people who aren't authorized to receive it or sell information to foreign adversaries, like Russia's Vladimir Putin or North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

Navarro asked Comey to detail the kinds of briefings Trump might receive after President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.

PHOTO: Former FBI chief James Comey joins "The View" on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021.
Former FBI chief James Comey joins "The View" on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021.
ABC News

"My understanding is... former presidents are, not all the time but on a regular basis, given general intelligence briefings about the state of the world and threats to the country," Comey said.

He said that it "makes good sense" because presidents often speak publicly both domestically and internationally after leaving office.

"We want to give them a picture of what's going on in the world," Comey said. "They're also given specific information if there's a threat to them."

Comey said that post-presidential intelligence briefings are usually "controlled" by the director of national intelligence, "who will have to take a very hard look at whether Donald Trump should be given information, including any information that might be sensitive to the security of the United States."

"The guy's a lying demagogue who you can't trust," Comey said. "You want to be very, very careful about what you give him."

"I'm hoping that he will have been stripped of the perks of a former president by being convicted by the U.S. Senate and barred from further participation in public office," he added. "Maybe that will be a reason for them to cut him off entirely."

Comey's remarks come on the heels of the House's vote to impeach the president Wednesday, one week after a mass of his supporters rioted on Capitol Hill. At least five people died as a result of the violence.

Trump is the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. It was also the largest bipartisan impeachment vote in American history.

In order to convict Trump in the Senate impeachment trial, every Democratic senator will need to vote in favor of conviction, and they'll need to gain the support of 17 Republican senators as well. In a statement released just after the House passed the article of impeachment Wednesday evening, McConnell said that it would be best for the country to wait until after Biden is sworn into office next week to hold a Senate trial.

In Comey's book "Saving Justice: Truth, Transparency, and Trust," which he said he finished in the fall 2020, Comey wrote that if Trump faces federal charges after leaving office, Biden should consider pardoning Trump. He explained why on "The View."

"It was a really hard and close question. It's even harder and closer now, and I'm not sure I'm right," Comey said. "But I worry about what will happen to our country if we give him center stage in Washington, D.C."

Comey posed a scenario in which "Trump moves along through the courts in D.C., and he's there constantly while a new president is trying to heal the nation, both spiritually and physically as we battle this awful pandemic."

"On balance, I'd rather he be convicted by the Senate, barred from office and pursued by local prosecutors in New York for the fraudster that he was, before he came [into] office," Comey said. "It'd be better if we turned off the Klieg lights and pursue him locally, rather than giving him center stage while Joe Biden tries to lead us."

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