Former FBI Director James Comey published an op-ed on Wednesday, claiming that President Donald Trump has “eaten” the soul of Attorney General William Barr and soon-to-be former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
In Comey’s New York Times op-ed, he wastes no time denouncing Barr for aiding the “president in using words like ‘no collusion’ and F.B.I. ‘spying'” as well as “downplaying acts of obstruction of justice as products of the president’s being ‘frustrated and angry.'”
Puzzled by Barr and Rosenstein’s “amoral” behavior and “lying,” Comey went on to ask a series of questions trying to figure out: “What happened to these people?”
“Amoral leaders have a way of revealing the character of those around them,” he said referencing the president’s influence.
Comey then contrasted the actions of former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who resigned “over principle,” to the actions of Barr, who continues to be “misleading” and Rosenstein, who upon resigning, thanked “a president who relentlessly attacked both him and the Department of Justice.”
The former FBI director went on to describe that “proximity to an amoral leader reveals something depressing” describing the process of how Trump has essentially “eaten” their souls:
“I think that’s at least part of what we’ve seen with Bill Barr and Rod Rosenstein. Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive Mr. Trump and that adds up to something they will never recover from. It takes character like Mr. Mattis’s to avoid the damage, because Mr. Trump eats your soul in small bites.”
Explaining Trump’s process to heavily influence those around him, Comey shared his own experiences of what he has seen the president do.
“It starts with your sitting silent while he lies, both in public and private, making you complicit by your silence,” he said. “In meetings with him, his assertions about what ‘everyone thinks’ and what is ‘obviously true’ wash over you, unchallenged, as they did at our private dinner on Jan. 27, 2017,” Comey wrote, emphasizing this happens a lot because “he rarely stops talking.”
He then recollected his former position and how he “felt” the president “building with his words a web of alternative reality and busily wrapping it around all of us in the room.”
The former director explained how this causes Trump administration officials to challenge “institutions and values you hold close.”
“Of course, to stay, you must be seen as on his team, so you make further compromises. You use his language, praise his leadership, tout his commitment to values.”
“And then you are lost,” Comey added, painting a picture of the final result of Barr and Rosenstein. “He has eaten your soul.”