Downey: Ironically, I was in fact the victim of a crime! I got paid to fly down to Austin, Texas, to appear before the grand jury. I kept saying to them, “I’m happy to pay for this. This is my responsibility as a citizen to appear before a grand jury.” And they said, “Oh no, you’re the victim of a crime.” I said, “What crime? They sent me the materials.” And they said, “Yeah, that’s it.”
Berman: Did you believe, at the time, that if the same thing happened to the Bush campaign, they would have done the same thing?
Downey: The other question my staff had was, Were we being set up? But I never thought for a minute that this was anything other than what it was. I never thought about whether they would have behaved the same way or not.
Berman: How many other people in the campaign besides your lawyer did you tell about the package before you went to the FBI? Did anyone say, “Let’s use this”?
Downey: Looking back, we thought for a few minutes, but we had a pretty good idea that this had to go to the FBI. I did not have the materials in my possession for more than an hour and a half.
Berman: And there was nobody in the small group of people who were looped in on this who said, “Hey, maybe we shouldn’t go to the FBI”?
I’ll tell you a funny story: I don’t want to mention his name, because it would somehow besmirch his memory, and I don’t want to do that. But Chris Dodd said one of his Senate colleagues said to him, “You’re friendly with Tom. Please tell me he read every page and made copies of all that.” And Chris said to this guy, “Uh, no.”
Berman: So did you ever have any regrets about it, knowing how close the election was and everything that’s transpired since?
Downey: That’s a good question. No. I mean, at the time, I thought we’d win. I thought it would be close.
Looking back on it, you could make the case that they would have discovered that the book was missing, that during the first debate maybe they would have seen Gore answer a question and then make an allegation that the materials had been stolen and used by the Gore campaign. And then you wind up losing a close election because you decided to play fast and loose.
How do you answer the question: Why did you keep it?
Berman: Given your rather unique vantage point, what’s been your reaction to everything that’s transpired over the last three years with Trump and Russia, and to the comments the president made to George Stephanopoulos?
Downey: The original Trump Tower meeting was a mistake, but the president said he didn’t participate in that. So it’s his son and his campaign making that decision.
But rather than having learned from that, Trump himself says, “Yeah, I’d have to look at it.” Really? What part of “Foreign interference is bad” don’t you understand? Why do you disrespect the American people so much that you can’t even have an election that isn’t tipped by one side or the other?