James Comey: You don't change minds of the defrauded by shouting at them

14 January 2021, 21:05

Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Campaigners can't "change minds of the defrauded by shouting at them", James Comey has told LBC.

In an interview with Iain Dale, the former FBI director said he wants to see the US heal divides after Donald Trump leaves office.

Asked how that could be done, he said Joe Biden's mission should be to "heal the country both literally, because so many Americans are dying every day from the coronavirus, and spiritually, to find a way to coax those people caught in the fog of lies".

He called on the incoming President to compassionately persuade the "defrauded" away from their point of view in a way that "doesn't embarrass them".

He said: "I think he most importantly does that by demonstrating empathetic competent leadership, which is what I think he does naturally.

"You don't change the minds of the defrauded by shouting at them."

Iain Dale spoke to former FBI director James Comey exclusively on LBC
Iain Dale spoke to former FBI director James Comey exclusively on LBC. Picture: LBC/PA Images

Citing conspiracy theories about election fraud and the subsequent riots on Capitol Hill last week, Mr Comey said the outgoing President should focus on guiding "millions trapped in the fog and get them focused on other things on making the country better".

It echoed Trump's public address on Tuesday evening after being impeached for the second time, where he urged his supporters to "think of ways to ease tensions, calm tempers and help promote peace" across the US.

Ahead of likely court action against Trump once he leaves office, Mr Comey warned that Biden pardoning him could further anger supporters as they may view it as a "trick" to get him to admit guilt.

"I don't know exactly what that will get him with Donald Trump's supporters," he said, "in part because if they're caught in the fog they'll realise that accepting a pardon is an admission of guilt.

"And so Joe Biden just tricked them into admitting he's guilty."

Mr Comey revealed that he would not prosecute Trump once he leaves office because he thinks it is important "not to give Donald Trump centre stage in American life for the next three or four years".

"If I were deciding it I would prefer not to prosecute him and give him that centre stage in Washington as part of an ongoing 'United States versus Trump' drama," he said.

Asked how he feels about the future of the country, he said he was optimistic and that "we needed something to reset us".

He said: "I think we're at an inflexion point in America and that makes me think we're going to be okay.

"We needed something to reset us and I didn't want it to be a tragedy, but it has been.

"I hope and think it's reminding the American people - and I see it in the public opinion polls - that there is something that we all agree.

"We all agree on a set of principles that are laid out in our Constitution - and that this stuff goes way too far."

You can listen to Iain's full interview with James Comey here.