In the broadcast of its interview with former FBI Director James Comey, ABC News did not air Comey’s strong criticism of President Obama for twice publically stating that Hillary Clinton’s private email server did not endanger national security despite an ongoing investigation.
In the unaired remarks, Comey went so far as to describe Obama’s comments as creating the impression that the Justice Department was biased with regard to Clinton. He charged Obama’s remarks “created this drumbeat that the Obama Justice Department, the fix is in because the president has told them what result they should reach.”
Referring to Obama’s public comments, Comey said that Obama “shouldn’t have done it. It was inappropriate.”
Yet none of those statements made the cut for ABC’s broadcast edition of its exclusive interview with Comey conducted by host George Stephanopoulos that aired Sunday night.
The network took the unusual step of releasing the transcript of Stephanopoulos’s full conversation with Comey, which reportedly lasted about five hours.
ABC News President James Goldston touted the move to release the transcript as an important example of transparency. The disclosure, however, may raise immediate questions about the decision-making process when it came to which material to include in the broadcast interview.
The nine minute and ten second segment on the FBI’s investigation of Clinton’s private email server did include one exchange in which Comey assured viewers that the Obama Justice Department was independent and was not compromised. However, that part was edited of the mere mention that people inside the government may have worked to protect Clinton.
Here is the official full transcript of that section of the interview (emphasis added):
“Can you assure people today– can you assure them that the Obama Justice Department was not protecting Hillary Clinton?” asked Stephanopoulos.
“Yes,” replied Comey. “And if there were people who were secretly trying to protect Hillary Clinton, we didn’t know about it. The FBI drove this investigation and we did it in a competent and independent way. I would bet my life on that.”
Here is a transcript of the version that aired, with Comey’s statement about not being aware of any “people who were secretly trying to protect Hillary Clinton” removed, and the question by Stephanopolous slightly different:
“Can you assure people that the Obama Justice Department was not protecting Hillary Clinton?” asked Stephanopoulos.
“Yes,” replied Comey. “The FBI drove this investigation and we did it in a competent and independent way. I would bet my life on that.”
Entirely missing from the ABC broadcast was a significant portion of the interview in which Comey responded to a question from Stephanopoulos, who asked him to explain why Attorney General Loretta Lynch “could not credibly announce the results of this investigation?”
Part of Comey’s explanation involved criticism over Obama’s actions.
The conversation was focused on Comey’s decision to infamously violate FBI tradition and bypass the Justice Department to unilaterally make public pronouncements about Clinton’s email case. Comey did this at a news conference on July 5, 2016 at which he criticized Clinton’s private email server as “extremely careless” before finally stating that “no charges are appropriate in this case.”
Here is the transcript of that portion of the interview in which Comey suggested Obama tainted the public perception of the Justice Department:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Dig into that. Why could the attorney general not credibly announce the results of this investigation?
JAMES COMEY: Well, for a bunch of reasons. And it sort of built over the course of the investigation. First of all, we had the problem that President Obama had twice publicly basically said, “There’s no there, there.” In an interview with– on Fox, an interview on 60 Minutes I think, both times he said that. So that’s his Justice Department.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Did that surprise you?
JAMES COMEY: It really did surprise me. He’s a very smart man and a lawyer. And so it surprised me. He shouldn’t have done it. It was inappropriate–
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Did you think he was trying to color the case?
JAMES COMEY: I don’t know. I don’t think so. He didn’t have any insight into the case, at least as far as I know, more than anybody reading the newspaper did, which was zero ’cause there were no leaks. I think he felt a pressure in the political environment because he wanted Hillary Clinton to be elected, to give her a shot in the arm. And so he spoke about an investigation. And he shouldn’t have done that. But that, as you can imagine, created this drumbeat that the Obama Justice Department, the fix is in because the president has told them what result they should reach.
Comey was referring to two interviews that Obama gave to the news media. Obama told “60 Minutes” in October 2015 that although Clinton made a “mistake” by using a private email server and she “could have handled the original decision better,” the email use did not damage national security. In a second interview, Obama told “Fox News Sunday” in April 2016 that Clinton would never “intentionally” jeopardize national security and that, “I continue to believe that she has not jeopardized America’s national security” with her email use.
While ABC News did not air Comey’s criticism of Obama and how the president’s statements may have impacted public confidence in the Justice Department, the network spent four other full segments airing the portions of Stephanopoulos’s interview with the former FBI chief about Trump.
A significant chunk of the broadcast interview was dedicated to the largely discredited, Democrat-funded anti-Trump dossier, especially to the questionable document’s most salacious accusation that Trump had Russian prostitutes perform a “golden shower” romp in the presidential suite at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Moscow in 2013
During the interview, Comey went so far as to claim “it’s possible” that the Russians possess compromising information on Trump.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
Written with additional research by Joshua Klein.