James Comey: Trump should be impeached, convicted, barred from public office and 'if he's jailed, fine'

The former FBI director launched a stinging attack on President Trump when speaking to the Calling Peston podcast. Credit: ITV News

Former FBI director James Comey has told ITV News US President Donald Trump should be convicted, barred from holding public office, prosecuted "for the fraudster he was" before being elected, and "if he goes to jail, then fine".

Mr Comey said the president will be going through a "very difficult time" after his second impeachment, but said America is watching the "clock tick down to when we finally get rid of him".

Asked if the Senate should follow his impeachment by convicting him of 'inciting insurrection', Mr Comey said: "I do. I think they should convict him and then bar him from ever holding public office again.

"Local prosecutors in New York should continue to pursue him for the fraudster he was before we elected him president. And if he goes to jail, then fine."

But Mr Comey - who explores issues of justice and fairness in the US justice system in his new book Saving Justice: Truth, Transparency, and Trust - said he's "worried" about the implications of prosecuting the president. He suggested prosecuting Trump "in the nation's Capitol" would not be in the national interest because it would put "his demagogue centre stage in our nation every day for the next three to four years when the new president is trying to heal the nation, both literally and spiritually".

In a stinging attack on the outgoing president, Mr Comey, speaking to the Calling Peston podcast, said "affirmation is like oxygen" to the president, "he needs it to live".

Much of Mr Trump's support in Congress has collapsed since a mob of his supporters stormed the US Capitol.

"So I'm sure he's experiencing an extraordinary crisis because he sees the affirmation drying up, especially in those closest to him are now jumping off the ship," Mr Comey said.

Mr Trump has taken on a more sombre tone since the siege on the Capitol - releasing a video in which he condemned the violence - but Mr Comey suggested the message was not genuine.

"It's like someone held in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan is handed a piece of paper and told he must read it.

"And the people who are giving them that piece of paper are smarter than he is because they realised that jeopardy he's in and they're trying to moonwalk out of it."

The former lawyer, who was sacked by Mr Trump as FBI director after investigating alleged collusion with Russia over his 2016 election win, said the Bureau "failed" by not stopping the riots.

"It was a failure at a very significant level," he said, "because it was a threat again, that required no imagination. And it was coming at you almost in slow motion.

"The president was exhorting people to come. It was going to be wild, were his words. And then they literally walked from the lips to the Capitol, which takes many minutes to do.

"It's why I was so upset watching it, not just unsettled, disgusted as a citizen. But as a law enforcement professional, anger was coursing through me over the failure to protect that Hill against this threat, which was so obvious."

Listen to the whole interview with James Comey on the ITV News Politics Podcast: