James Comey calls threat of riots on Inauguration Day ‘very concerning’

The former FBI chief says President Donald Trump is to blame for attacks on the U.S. Capitol and expresses concern over Trump receiving post-presidency general intelligence briefings.
6:41 | 01/15/21

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Transcript for James Comey calls threat of riots on Inauguration Day ‘very concerning’
Okay. Okay. So Wednesday with the support of ten Republicans, trump was impeached for a second time. Never happened before in this country. This will now go to Mitch Mcconnell and the senate. How do you think this national nightmare of a presidency will end, James? I hope it will end with the histoic stain of a second impeachment by a margin and a conviction, and barring him from further service in public office, and then the lights go out on him, and he goes away. Okay. Mr. Comey, live here in the beltway, and tensions are running high. People are very worried about violence on inauguration day, and now the FBI is warning of plans for armed protests it a all 50 state capitals and Washington, D.C. Are we prepared for something this widespread? It's very concerning because we have a large group of people in this country who have been radicalized by lies about all kinds of things. Most recently, the election, and they have guns, and we saw that the explosion of that radicalization on capitol hill Wednesday so it's a threat that has to be taken very seriously. That said, I have been involved in security for two inaugurations. We know how to make an inauguration safe. It's depressing that we have to lock down the entire mall, but it'll be locked down, and I'm confident that Joe Biden will become president in a safe ceremony. Director Comey, pro-trump rioters stormed the capitol to protest trump losing the election. How much of what we saw should be blamed on trump's radicalization message of a rigged and stolen election, and what about the rioters who stormed the capitol? Do you consider them to be domestic terrorists? First, they are terrorists. They are people bent on coercing a civilian government, attacking our democracy because of their work view of reality, and the reason their view is warped is because of the president's lies and it's not just the lie about the election which is the prime mover for this attack on capitol hill. It's four years of constant lying about the virus, about our institutions, about our courts, about our democracy. The demagogue's lies have great power, especially when they're echoed by his enablers in the senate and the house and the media. This is owe Al Qaeda radicalized. Constant torrent of lies and we have millions of vulnerable people in this country who have consumed these lies and some portion of them have been radicalized to the point where they believe they're on the side of the angels who have to engage in violence directed against us. So it's a serious threat. It's a terrorism threat, and Donald Trump and his enablers -- we want to make sure we keep the receipts because a lot of people are going to deny they had any connection to it come a few months from now, but that group of people is a radicalized group of terrorists. There was a massive security failure. There weren't enough officers to protect the building or the members of congress, and it could have been so much worse. How can such a main artery of our government be so vulnerable? I don't know the answer to that, but we darn well better find out the answer to that because I hope like all human beings, watching that I was sickened, but as somebody who has spent a long career in law enforcement, I was also angered that the hill wasn't protected. It can be protected. We have the resources. We have the know-how, but for reasons I can't explain to you, it wasn't adequately protected against a threat that was coming in slow motion. We were criticized after 9/11 for a failure of imagination. We didn't imagine the way the terrorists might attack us and that was fair criticism. This didn't require any imagination to depict this might happen. This was just a failure. Not of imagination, but failure. And understanding the why behind it, not just the capitol police, but everybody in the security business, to keep people safe going forward. Now there are reports of warning of a violent war in an internal report issued the day before the attack but it wasn't acted on urgently enough to prevent what ensued. What do you think happened here? Why wasn't this acted on? I can't explain it, but it's a very, very important question. We need a 9/11-type commission look back at this because it may be a failure on multiple levels. The FBI's job is not to secure space. The FBI doesn't do civil disturbance or riot control, but it does information and intelligence sharing and so understanding that the bureau knew, why they didn't know things if they didn't, and share it. I don't like to hunt for heads. We're not hunting for heads. We're hunting for safety in this country going forward, and to do that, we have to have those answers. Mr. Comey, I've read many times and I've heard -- I would love for you to clarify this, that amongst the many perks that former presidents can get is they can get intelligence briefings. That they're entitled to intelligence briefings. I don't know if you were involved with this with other presidents, but is this true, and if so, how do we keep Donald Trump -- what needs to happen so that he is kept from having those intelligence briefings, which he could divulge to mar-a-lago members, or he could sell to Putin or Kim Jong-un? I mean, it's just they cannot be in his hands. So can you clarify for me what Yes. My understanding is if 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, and that makes good sense because they speak so often even though they're not in office, around the country and around the world representing us. We want to give them a picture of what's going on in the world, and they also are given specific information if there's a threat to them. That is all 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 for the reasons you say. The guy is a lying demagogue who you can't trust, and so you want to be very, very careful about what you give him. Now 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, and maybe that will be a reason for them to cut him off

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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