The sit-down comes ahead of the publication of his new book, A Higher Loyalty, on Tuesday.
Read the full transcript of Comey’s interview:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Thank you for doing this.
JAMES COMEY: Oh, it’s my pleasure. Thanks for coming.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Simple start. Why did you write this book?
JAMES COMEY: I r– I was never going to write a book. But I decided I had to write this one to try and be useful. That was my goal after I was fired, to be useful. And it occurred to me maybe I can be useful by offering a view to people, especially to young people, of what leadership should look like and how it should be centered on values. And so–
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You lay out qualities of an ethical leader. What are they?
JAMES COMEY: First and foremost, it’s someone who realizes that lasting values have to be at the center of their leadership. Whether they’re in government or in the private sector or leading a university, they have to focus on things like fairness and integrity and, most of all, the truth. That the truth matters.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And you have– there’s almost a sense of– of alarm underneath the whole book. You say it’s a dangerous time in our country?
JAMES COMEY: I think it is. And– I chose those words carefully. I was worried when I chose the word, “Dangerous” first. I thought, “Is that an overstatement?” And I don’t think it is because–
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Why not?
JAMES COMEY: I worry that the norms at the center of this country– we can fight as Americans about guns or taxes or immigration, and we always have. But what we have in common is a set of norms. Most importantly, the truth. “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” right? Truth is the fourth word of that sentence. That’s what we are. And if we lose that, if we lose tethering of our leaders to that truth, what are we? And so I started to worry. Actually, the foundation of this country is in jeopardy when we stop measuring our leaders against that central value of the truth.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Are we losing it?
JAMES COMEY: I think we are in part. But I think the strength of this country is that we’re going to outlast it. That there will be damage to that norm. But I liken President Trump in the book to a forest fire. Going to do tremendous damage. Going to damage those important norms. But a forest fire gives healthy things a chance to grow that had no chance before that fire.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: How do we put it out?
JAMES COMEY: We put it out in two ways. We put it out first by not becoming numb to the fact that the truth is being assailed every day. By not deciding that it’s just too much to pay attention to …read more
Source:: Time – Politics