Former FBI director James Comey has said Donald Trump is a man “morally unfit to be president”, who treats women like “pieces of meat”.
Mr Comey was giving his first major television interview since he was fired by President Trump last year.
He told ABC News that Mr Trump lies constantly and may have obstructed justice.
Hours before the interview aired, the president went on the offensive, accusing Mr Comey of “many lies”.
Mr Comey told ABC’s 20/20 programme on Sunday night: “I don’t buy this stuff about him being mentally incompetent or early stages of dementia.”
“I don’t think he’s medically unfit to be president. I think he’s morally unfit to be president.
“Our president must embody respect and adhere to the values that are at the core of this country. The most important being truth. This president is not able to do that,” Mr Comey said.
.@GStephanopoulos: “Is Donald Trump unfit to be president?”
@Comey: “Yes, but not in the way I often hear people talk about it…I don’t think he’s medically unfit to be president. I think he’s morally unfit to be president.” https://t.co/nzGYlTmLXf #Comey pic.twitter.com/4eag9flFZ2
— ABC News (@ABC) April 16, 2018
After the interview aired, Mr Trump’s party – via the Republican National Committee – released a statement saying Mr Comey’s publicity tour for his new book showed “his true higher loyalty is to himself.”
How did we get here?
It is the latest development in a long-standing feud between the two men, further fuelled by the upcoming publication of Mr James Comey’s memoir A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership.
The ex-FBI chief is on a publicity blitz for the book.
President Trump has said the” badly reviewed book” raises “big questions”. He also suggested Mr Comey should be imprisoned, and in recent days began referring to him as a “slimeball”.
The big questions in Comey’s badly reviewed book aren’t answered like, how come he gave up Classified Information (jail), why did he lie to Congress (jail), why did the DNC refuse to give Server to the FBI (why didn’t they TAKE it), why the phony memos, McCabe’s $700,000 & more?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2018
The story dates back to the 2016 presidential election, when Mr James Comey was FBI director, and the investigation into Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified emails on a private server while Secretary of State.
In July 2016, he said that she had been “extremely careless” in her handling of the emails but the FBI would not press charges.
However, in October, days before the vote, he sent a letter to Congress telling them the FBI was reopening an investigation after finding more emails. The letter went public – and Mrs Clinton says it handed Donald Trump the election.
In March 2017, when alleged links between Mr Trump’s campaign and Russia were being investigated by the FBI, Mr Trump allegedly pressured Mr Comey to publicly declare that the president was not personally being investigated – something the then director says he declined to do.
Some Democrats blamed Mr Comey for costing Mrs Clinton the election, while Trump supporters felt he was targeting the president with the Russia investigation.
He was fired by President Trump in May, finding out about his dismissal from TV news.
On 6 November, the FBI said it had completed its review into the new trove of emails and there would, again, be no charges.
Once Mr Trump became president, Mr Comey says he tried to extract a pledge of personal loyalty from him – something the president fiercely denies.