After FBI Director James Comey was fired on Tuesday, pundits began looking for reasons for his sudden departure and reading meaning into Trump’s unexpected decision. Now Comey has issued a statement of sorts. A letter he wrote to his colleagues at the FBI has been released, and it explains his side of the story.
While Trump continues to tweet about his decision to release the FBI Director, Comey’s letter shows a time honored adherence to civility. His letter is both professional and diplomatic.
“I have long believed that a President can fire an FBI Director for any reason, or for no reason at all,” the letter begins.
“I’m not going to spend time on the decision or the way it was executed,” it continues. “I hope you won’t either. It is done, and I will be fine, although I will miss you and the mission deeply.”
“I have said to you before that, in times of turbulence, the American people should see the FBI as a rock of competence, honesty, and independence. What makes leaving the FBI hard is the nature and quality of its people, who together make it that rock for America.”
“My hope is that you will continue to live our values and the mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution.”
“If you do that, you too will be sad when you leave, and the American people will be safer.”
Comey closed out the letter in emotional fashion, saying: ‘Working with you has been one of the great joys of my life. Thank you for that gift.’
After firing Comey, the media began a full-court-press on the Trump administration. They demanded explanations of both the rational and timing. And their speculations covered a wide swath of ground. Could it be that Comey was getting too close to something to the Russian ties to the White House? Was he fired for his refusal to indict Clinton for her mishandling of classified information?
The official word from the White House and Department of Justice detailed a confusing reversal on their opinion of Comey’s handling of the Clinton scandal. While Trump and Republicans were pushing Comey to explain why no one was prosecuted, Trump’s new Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, suggested that Comey had bungled the whole thing, and overstepped his bounds regarding Clinton.
Other theories include Comey’s refusal to support President Trump’s claims of wiretapping at Trump Tower, and even his overstatement of the number of emails exchanged between Clinton’s aids in a conversation last week with the senate.
And Comey was also slated to give testimony today on Capitol Hill. Andrew McCabe, who was named acting F.B.I. director, will speak in Comey’s place to national security officials.
The firing seems to have caught the Trump administration off guard, even though they instigated it. For a good look at how discombobulated they are, watch this interview with Kellyanne Conway.