James Comey blasts Rod Rosenstein, mocks departing deputy AG for thinking 'the country needs me'

Former FBI Director James Comey described deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as not having “strong character” Thursday while appearing on a CNN town hall telecast.

“I think people like that, like Rod Rosenstein, who are people of accomplishment but not real sterling character, strong character, find themselves trapped. And then they start telling themselves a story to justify their being trapped which is, 'Yeah, he's awful but the country needs me,’” Comey told host Anderson Cooper.

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Cooper brought up Rosenstein as Comey was responding to a question about a recent op-ed he penned, in which he wrote that the president “eats your soul in small bites.”

“Republicans are doing this in Congress. ‘Yeah, it's awful, but if I speak I'll get defeated and this nation needs me here right now.’ So they start to make little compromises to stay on the team. Talk about collusion, saying that's what I need to do to survive and in the process, he has eaten their soul, they’re lost. So that's what happens to so many of people,” Comey said.

Rosenstein was honored with a Department of Justice send-off on Thursday, after submitting his resignation to President Trump last month. His departure will reportedly take effect Saturday.

Thursday was also the second anniversary of Trump firing Comey from the FBI.

Attorney General Bill Barr, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and FBI Director Christopher Wray were on hand at the Rosenstein farewell, touting his record and character throughout his career, but specifically over the last two years.

Rosenstein fell into the political crosshairs throughout his tenure and was on the receiving end of the president’s ire over the Russia investigation. Rosenstein had taken over oversight of the investigation after Sessions recused himself from the probe -- a decision that infuriated Trump.

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It was early on in Rosenstein's oversight of the probe, in May 2017, that Trump fired Comey. Just a week later, Rosenstein appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller -- Comey's former boss at the FBI. Rosenstein watched over the probe until November 2018, when former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker took over. Whitaker was ultimately replaced by Barr.

On CNN's Thursday telecast, Comey also told Cooper that he tried to avoid becoming like Rosenstein and other "co-opted" members of the administration by openly disagreeing with President Trump in the Oval Office.

According to Comey, Trump was equating the U.S. to "killers" like Russian President Vladamir Putin.

"And among the words were his saying we are the same kind of killers that Vladimir Putin is. He was defending his moral equivalency between us and Putin and I interrupted and said, 'Mr. President, no, we're not the kind of killers that Putin is,'" Comey said.

Fox News' Brooke Singman contributed to this report.