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Charleston Republicans give eye-rolls and boos against James Comey during ABC interview

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Charleston GOP CNN Comey

Charleston-area Republicans participate in a CNN focus group interview Sunday night in response to the first TV interview given by ousted FBI Director James Comey. Photo provided by Sandy Senn.

Some 23 Charleston Republicans booed, hissed and rolled their eyes Sunday night as they watched ousted FBI Director James Comey give his first TV interview since being fired last May.

"We all left with the impression that all he wants to do is sell books," state Sen. Sandy Senn, R-Charleston, said Monday after taking part in a CNN focus group on Comey late Sunday night.

During an hour-long interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Comey said President Donald Trump was "morally unfit to be president" and compared the commander in chief to a "mob boss" in his repeated demands for loyalty.

Comey's comments had members of the Charleston County Republican Party questioning Comey  — not Trump — as CNN cameras rolled inside a downtown Charleston home. 

"He diminished the FBI and what it means to serve in government," said Larry Kobrovsky, the local party chairman.

The cable news outlet picked the Charleston County GOP to be the national focus group to respond to the Comey interview.

The local group's reactions was set to air Monday night during a segment of Anderson Cooper's show, which will focus on who is more believable in the squabble between Comey and Trump.

Among Charleston Republicans, the answer was uniform. To them, Comey has lost credibility and, by extension, their respect.

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Comey's memoir, "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership," is set to be released in bookstores Tuesday. Already, pre-orders have pushed the book to the top of Amazon's and Barnes & Noble's bestseller lists.

Senn, whose law firm routinely represents police departments, said she did not think Trump was clear of blame, though, and criticized him for name-calling.

"Both of them, so petty," she said.

State Rep. Nancy Mace, who worked as a coalitions director and field director for the Trump campaign from September 2015 until August 2016, called Comey's interviews a "publicity stunt."

"He can't sit there and talk about the truth when he's been lying and misleading the public," said Mace, R-Daniel Island.

The sentiment of the local focus group echoes the talking points of the national GOP. Last week, the Republican National Committee launched a website called "Lyin' Comey" to discredit Comey ahead of his book release. 

Charleston Republicans called their viewing party an unexpectedly unifying moment.

Reach Caitlin Byrd at 843-937-5590 and follow her on Twitter @MaryCaitlinByrd.

Political Reporter

Caitlin Byrd is a political reporter at The Post and Courier and author of the Palmetto Politics newsletter. Before moving to Charleston in 2016, her byline appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times. To date, Byrd has won 17 awards for her work.

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