-- President Trump's former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, today called James Comey the "deep state,” referring to the former FBI director's scathing congressional testimony in which Comey admitted he leaked a memo on conversations he had with the president.
“He is the deep state in Washington that is everything that is wrong. He admitted under oath that he gave his contemporaneous notes to a law professor," Lewandowski told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview today on "Good Morning America."
The "deep state," which many people write off as a conspiracy theory, refers to the idea that there's a cadre of disgruntled career employees inside a government who are working together to secretly manipulate government policy and undermine elected leaders or political appointees.
Such people could have positions in the military or intelligence fields, as well as other areas of government like bureaucratic agencies. The notion that a "deep state" exists inside the federal government rose to prominence during the first 100 days of Trump's administration.
Lewandowski also suggested Comey should be prosecuted if it's revealed that he leaked information more than once.
"He was the director of the FBI when these notes were taken and he’s turned them over to a law professor to ensure The New York Times got that information," Lewandowski said. "And if that’s what he has done, if he continues to do this, if this is his pattern as the FBI director, he absolutely should have been fired. And if he is the chronic leaker, he should be potentially prosecuted for leaking the information."
During the interview, Stephanopoulos repeatedly pressed Lewandowski on a private meeting the president held with Comey on Feb. 14 in the Oval Office, in which Trump allegedly asked everyone else in the room to leave so he could speak with the then-FBI director alone.
"Maybe he wanted to have a conversation with Jim Comey directly," Lewandowski said.
In his written statement submitted to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Comey claims that during this private meeting Trump brought up former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was fired after the White House said he had misrepresented the nature of his contact with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
Regarding the FBI's probe into Flynn, Trump allegedly told Comey at the time, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."
A source familiar with the president's thinking told ABC News on Thursday that Trump "disputes that he ever asked Comey to let the Flynn investigation go in any way."
Trump's longtime lawyer Marc Kasowitz delivered an on-camera statement after Comey's testimony Thursday, saying "the president never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including suggesting that Mr. Comey 'let Flynn go.'"
During his hearing Thursday, Comey told the committee he decided to take notes of his conversations with Trump because he was "honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting." Comey also informed the committee he has handed over all memos on his meetings with Trump to the special counsel, Robert Mueller, who was chosen to oversee the investigation into potential ties between the Russian government and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump fired Comey from his position as FBI director on May 9 after receiving letters recommending he do so from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Comey revealed to the committee in his testimony on Thursday that, while he was still head of the FBI, Trump was personally not under investigation.
Lewandowski said it's "highly unlikely" that the president is now under investigation since Comey was fired.
"Now, is it possible under some strange scenario that since Jim Comey has left an investigation has started? It’s possible but it’s highly unlikely," Lewandowski said on "GMA" this morning.