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Trump 'morally unfit' for office, says former FBI chief James Comey

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Former FBI Director James Comey has given an exclusive interview slamming US President Donald Trump, saying he's not fit for office.

Fired former FBI chief James Comey lashed out at Donald Trump, calling him "morally unfit" to be president and describing him as a serial liar who will "stain everyone around him."

Mr Comey's remarks, aired on ABC News in the US on Sunday, are the latest salvo in a war of words with Mr Trump, who excoriated the former FBI director on Twitter earlier in the day, again calling him a "slimeball" and suggesting he should be jailed.

The wide-ranging interview also came ahead of Tuesday's release of Mr Comey's memoir, "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership," in which he details his interactions with the Republican president.

"I think he's morally unfit to be president," Mr Comey said, in his first televised interview since being fired in May last year.

The former federal prosecutor pointed to how Mr Trump "talks about and treats women like they're pieces of meat" and "lies constantly about matters big and small and insists the American people believe it."

[Trump] talks about and treats women like they're pieces of meat

Mr Comey also said that serving in Mr Trump's administration poses a serious ethical dilemma.

"The challenge of this president is that he will stain everyone around him," he told ABC.

"And the question is, how much stain is too much stain and how much stain eventually makes you unable to accomplish your goal of protecting the country and serving the country?"

Compromising material?

In the book, Mr Comey likens Mr Trump to a dishonest, ego-driven mob boss and says he demanded the then FBI chief's personal pledge of loyalty - a damning account that has infuriated the president at a moment of intensifying legal pressure on other fronts.

President Donald Trump, left, shakes hands with James Comey, then director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
President Donald Trump, left, shakes hands with James Comey, then director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
AAP

"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 a tweetstorm fired off Sunday before the interview.

The president said he "stupidly" handled a probe into Mr Trump's 2016 election rival Hillary Clinton and how she used a private email server during her time as secretary of state.

In another tweet, the president offered 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 Sunday on ABC's "This Week" in the US.

In the interview, Mr Comey said he was unsure whether or not the Russians have compromising material that could be used to blackmail Mr Trump - either relating to his pre-election personal conduct, or his campaign's actions.

"I think it's possible. I don't know. These are more words I never thought I'd utter about a president of the United States, but it's possible," he said.

Possible obstruction of justice

And Mr Comey said the president may have obstructed justice when he asked him to drop an investigation into former national security advisor Michael Flynn.

"Possibly. I mean, it's certainly some evidence of obstruction of justice," Mr Comey said. "It would depend upon other things that reflected on his intent."

Mr Trump and his aides have countered Mr Comey's media blitz by attacking his handling of the probe into Ms Clinton's emails.

Mr Comey acknowledged in the ABC interview that his belief that Ms 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 Ms 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.

Mr Trump attacked him on Twitter.

"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 said.

"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.

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