Former FBI Director James Comey said at a televised town hall Wednesday that he is "embarrassed and ashamed" of the Republican Party for abandoning the values he once took pride in.
"I was attracted by the notion that character matters and values matter most of all, that that's where you start in evaluating a person, an entity, a country: What are their values. That's non-negotiable," Comey said at the CNN event at his alma mater, the College of William & Mary in Virginia.
Comey has conducted a range of interviews to tout the release of his new book, A Higher Loyalty, this month. CNN's Anderson Cooper and students asked about a host of issues, including his firing, the moral fitness of President Donald Trump and his thought process regarding an investigation of Hillary Clinton ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
When asked by a young Republican student what first attracted him to the party and what conservatives could "rally around today," Comey bluntly said he was no longer a Republican before questioning the motives of top lawmakers.
"Where is that commitment to character and values?" he said. "If people have convinced themselves that, well, we'll trade it temporarily for a tax cut or a Supreme Court justice, as I say in the book, that's a fool's bargain, because those values are all you have."
"There will always be another Supreme Court justice, always another tax bill. You lose this, exactly what are you?"
Comey said in 2016 that he was no longer a registered Republican after being one "for most of his adult life," and earlier this month he said on an ABC News podcast that Republicans "don't represent anything I believe in."
"I see the Republican Party, as near as I can tell, reflects now entirely Donald Trump's values," Comey said on ABC's "Start Here." "It doesn't reflect values at all. It's transactional, it's ego-driven, it's in service to his ego. And it's, I think, consoling itself that we're going to achieve important policy goals ― a tax cut or something."
On Wednesday, he questioned what legacy Republicans hoped to leave behind.
"What I hope they'll do is ask themselves, Republicans: 'So what will I tell my grandchildren when they ask me so what did you do? Did you trade a tax cut for the rule of law, for equal protection of the laws, for the truth? Really grandpa?'"