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Trump lashes out at ex-FBI chief Comey in new Twitter storm
[WASHINGTON] Donald Trump launched into another furious Twitter tirade against James Comey on Sunday, hours before the broadcast of an extended interview with the fired former FBI director and with a memoir detailing his interactions with the president soon to hit US bookstores.
Excerpts of the interview with ABC News already have been aired, as have reviews of Mr Comey's memoir, "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership".
The book, which is due out on Tuesday, likens Mr Trump to a dishonest, ego-driven mob boss and says he demanded Mr Comey's personal pledge of loyalty - a damning account that has infuriated the president at a moment of intensifying legal pressure on other fronts.
"I never asked Comey for Personal Loyalty. I hardly even knew this guy. Just another of his many lies. His 'memos' are self serving and FAKE!" Mr Trump said in one of his latest tweets.
The president again called Mr Comey, who has said he took detailed notes of his meetings with Mr Trump, a "slime ball" and said he "stupidly" handled a probe into Mr Trump's 2016 election rival Hillary Clinton.
In another tweet, the president undertook a mini-review of Mr Comey's memoir: "The big questions in Comey's badly reviewed book aren't answered like, how come he gave up Classified Information (jail), why did he lie to Congress (jail), why did the DNC refuse to give Server to the FBI (why didn't they TAKE it), why the phony memos, McCabe's $700,000 & more?"
The jumble of references appeared to allude to unsubstantiated accusations Mr Trump has previously made claiming Mr Comey lied in Senate testimony last May in denying he had served as an anonymous news source.
"Look, it's been very clear that James Comey is a self-admitted leaker. He lied to Congress," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on ABC's "This Week."
A Justice Department inspector general's report released this week took aim at former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe on similar grounds, finding that he improperly authorised release of information to a Wall Street Journal reporter in 2016 and misled investigators about it.
But Mr McCabe, who was fired last month, has charged his dismissal was an attempt to discredit a probe by special counsel Robert Mueller into possible Trump campaign collusion with a Russian effort to sway the 2016 elections.
The escalating feud comes as the Mueller probe gathers momentum - and with the president under pressure on other legal fronts.
In the latest twist, the Justice Department revealed this week that Mr Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has been under "criminal investigation" for months by the US attorney's office in New York.
On Monday, investigators took the unusual step of searching Mr Cohen's New York residence, office, hotel room, safety deposit boxes and cellphones.
Materials seized could include evidence related to payoffs to keep two women - a porn star and a former Playboy playmate - from talking about their past sexual encounters with Mr Trump.
Mr Trump and his aides have countered Mr Comey's media blitz by attacking his handling of an investigation into Mrs Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of state.
Mr Comey, who was fired by Mr Trump last year, acknowledged in the ABC interview that his belief that Mrs Clinton would be elected president "was a factor" in his decision to reopen the email probe 11 days before the US election, a development that Mrs Clinton blames for her surprise defeat.
"I don't remember spelling it out, but it had to have been, that she's going to be elected president and if I hide this from the American people, she'll be illegitimate the moment she's elected, the moment this comes out," Mr Comey said.
His comments echoed a quote from his memoir, in which he said it was "entirely possible" his concern over Mrs Clinton's legitimacy "bore greater weight than it would have if the election appeared closer or if Donald Trump were ahead in all polls." "Unbelievably, James Comey states that Polls, where Crooked Hillary was leading, were a factor in the handling (stupidly) of the Clinton Email probe," Mr Trump tweeted.
"In other words, he was making decisions based on the fact that he thought she was going to win, and he wanted a job. Slimeball!" he wrote.
In another tweet he accused Mr Comey of throwing former attorney general Loretta Lynch "under the bus," an allusion to Mr Comey having criticised Ms Lynch in the memoir for suggesting that he refer to the Clinton probe as only a "matter," rather than an investigation.
"Was she promised a Supreme Court seat, or AG, in order to lay off Hillary," Mr Trump asked.