James Comey, former FBI director: No contact with Durham probe, ‘not worried at all’
Former FBI Director James B. Comey said Sunday he hasn’t been contacted by John Durham, the U.S. attorney tapped to review the 2016 probe into the Trump campaign, and he’s “not worried at all” as President Trump derides him as a dirty cop.
Speaking to CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Mr. Comey said he saw reports that former CIA Director John O. Brennan was interviewed as part of the Durham probe.
But Mr. Comey hasn’t spoken to Mr. Durham and said he “can’t imagine” that he is a target in the investigation.
“Given that I know what happened during 2016, which was a bunch of people trying to do the right thing consistent with the law, I’m not worried at all about that investigation of the investigation,” Mr. Comey said. “Next, I’m sure, will be an investigation of the investigation of the investigation. They just want to have an investigation to talk about.”
The Durham team is poring over the 2016 probes as Mr. Trump fumes over the saga that loomed over his first term, including former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, which found no criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.
A Senate Intelligence Committee report published last week didn’t find evidence of collusion to influence the election but highlighted unusual contacts between a high-ranking campaign official and someone they describe as a Russian intelligence officer.
While there are no indications Mr. Brennan and Mr. Comey are targets of the Durham probe, former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith pleaded guilty Wednesday to making false statements, admitting that in early 2017 he altered an email to say former Trump campaign aide Carter Page was not a source for the CIA when, in fact, he was.
Speaking to CBS, Mr. Comey defended his agency for looking into Russia’s activities vis-a-vis the Trump campaign, citing the Senate report that detailed frequent communications between ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, a Ukrainian businessman who the committee describes as “a Russian intelligence officer.”
“Let that sink in and then ask yourself, so there was nothing to investigate here, as [Attorney General] Bill Barr says, it was a hoax? The Republicans have exploded that nonsense,” Mr. Comey said, referring to GOP lawmakers who signed off on the intelligence report.
The committee said it was “unable to determine why” Manafort shared sensitive internal polling data and campaign strategy with Mr. Kilimnik, or if Mr. Kilimnik further shared that information.
Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat, highlighted this portion of the report as the most explosive.
“Maybe one of the most stunning was the level of detail of the then-campaign manager Paul Manafort sharing very specific campaign information with a Russian agent,” Mr. Warner told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We’ll never know what the Russians did with that information, but think about that. A campaign manager, sharing with a known Russian agent during the middle of a campaign.”
Mr. Comey, meanwhile, accepted criticism for not taking a more aggressive stance in warning the Democratic National Committee that Russians gained access to their servers. Hacked emails were released by Wikileaks, upending Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
“I think at the time, our folks thought that just telling an institution that the Russians are inside your house was enough,” Mr. Comey said. “But I think part of what may have led to a lack of urgency at the DNC and at the FBI is that nobody anticipated this wasn’t normal intelligence gathering by the Russians, this was an effort to weaponize. And if anybody had seen that, I think they would have yelled a little bit more loudly.”
He also said he regretted becoming involved in the 2016 race — but had no choice — after Mrs. Clinton tweeted a smirk at Mr. Comey’s recently tweeted photo of himself wearing an “Elect More Women” T-shirt.
Clinton supporters blamed her loss in large part on late revelations from the FBI about her use of a private email server for official business and its connection to a probe of ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner.
“We were stuck, and I think we made the right decisions choosing between terrible options,” Mr. Comey said. “And so I wasn’t trying, nor was anybody else in the FBI trying to elect or not elect anyone.”
• Jeff Mordock contributed to this report.