Former FBI Director James Comey on Wednesday weighed in for the first time on reports of an informant investigating President Donald Trump's campaign, saying that lies and attacks on the law enforcement agency "will do lasting damage to our country."
In a pair of tweets, Comey defended the use of confidential human sources — "the actual term," he said — as being "essential to protecting the country."
Comey then went on the offensive, suggesting that Republicans in positions of political leadership were attacking the FBI dishonestly.
"How will Republicans explain this to their grandchildren?" he asked.
Comey, who was fired by Trump in May 2017, did not mention the president by name in the Wednesday morning tweets. But Comey's statements came shortly after Trump, also on Twitter, decried "SPYGATE" as potentially being "one of the biggest political scandals in history!"
The Wednesday morning diatribe was not the first time Trump spoke out about the alleged informant, who reportedly interviewed multiple Trump campaign associates as part of the FBI's probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
In a Friday tweet, Trump claimed, without providing evidence, that "at least one FBI representative" had been "implanted, for political purposes," in his campaign. A New York Times report published later that day said there was no available evidence to suggest that the informant had been "implanted," or that the person's work was politically motivated.
On Sunday, Trump took action against the alleged use of an informant, demanding that the Justice Department investigate whether his campaign had been "infiltrated or surveilled" for "Political Purposes."
The Justice Department appeared to comply with the request, announcing Sunday evening that its internal watchdog would investigate the matter as part of a broader probe surrounding Trump's campaign.
Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office on Tuesday, Trump said that "if they had spies in my campaign, that would be a disgrace to this country," and that it "would probably make every political event ever look like small potatoes."
Comey wrote extensive notes after his interactions with Trump before his departure from the FBI. He also recounted his experiences with the president in detail in his recently released memoir, and has criticized the president in subsequent media appearances.