Former FBI agent reacts to Comey interview

James Comey appeared on ABC News Sunday night. (WSYX/WTTE)

Former FBI agent Harry Trombitas said the James Comey seen in the ABC News interview Sunday was the same man he remembered meeting during his time in the agency. He said he believed Comey was protecting the bureau's reputation as it was dragged into a political fight with the White House.

Trombitas worked in the FBI for 30 years before retiring. His daughter was sworn in as an agent by Comey before the former director was fired.

"I'm confident the vast majority of the men and women in the FBI are independent, hard-working people who are really trying to do the right thing," Trombitas said. "If you sat down and had a cup of coffee with him, what you saw on TV during the interview is exactly the person he is."

He said agents tend to be conservative but that label didn't apply to everyone. He said generally agents want to avoid getting pulled into politics.

"(Comey) really tried to do the right thing," he said. "He was just in a very bad situation. He would have been damned if he did, damned if he didn't."

Trombitas empathized with Comey when he talked about his one-on-one dinner with President Trump when Comey said Trump asked for his loyalty.

"That would have been a very uncomfortable dinner," Trombitas said. “We don’t pledge our loyalty to a person or to a president, we pledge it to the people of the United States.”

Martha Crone, a political science instructor at Columbus State Community College, said Comey's tenure at the head of the FBI ticked off members of both the Republican and Democratic parties.

"Comey was fired for what seemed to be much more clearly political purposes," Crone said. "There's nothing that prevents a president from firing an FBI director."

Trombitas said there may be the occasional bad apple in the FBI who lets politics interfere with their work. He said he didn't agree with Comey's decision to leak information to the media but he said overall the former director was popular among agents and did a good job leading the bureau.

"Whatever side of the political arena that you fall on, you either think he's one of the greatest Americans around or a slime ball," Trombitas said.

Crone said she didn't think the interview with ABC News would dramatically change opinions of President Trump. She said most people have already made up their mind whether they want to believe Comey or not depending on how they feel about the president.

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