FBI Director James Comey was unceremoniously fired on Tuesday by President Donald Trump, a stained mattress covered in raccoon hair, allegedly for how he handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails during the 2016 election. But he seems to be doing okay.
The administration, however, is not. The New York Times reports that the Justice Department had been looking for a reason to fire Comey for some time:
The Justice Department began working on Mr. Comey’s dismissal. Attorney General Jeff Sessions instructed his deputies to come up with reasons to fire Mr. Comey, according to a senior American official. On Monday, Mr. Trumpmet with Mr. Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. White House officials insisted Mr. Sessions and Mr. Rosenstein were the ones who raised concerns about Mr. Comey with the president and that he told them to put their recommendations in writing.
Rosenstein, on whom the firing has been largely blamed, reportedly threatened to quit over the depiction that he spearheaded the firing efforts, though multiple sources deny it, according to NBC News.
The New York Times reports that the investigation into Trump’s ties with Russia was just one thread in the president’s disapproval of the FBI director. Comey openly expressed his shock at Trump’s wire-tapping claims, telling his people in the White House it was “outside the realm of normal,” perhaps even “crazy.” Trump really didn’t like that:
For his part, Mr. Trump fumed when Mr. Comey publicly dismissed the sensational wiretapping claim. In the weeks that followed, he grew angrier and began talking about firing Mr. Comey. After stewing last weekend while watching Sunday talk shows at his New Jersey golf resort, Mr. Trump decided it was time. There was “something wrong with” Mr. Comey, he told aides.
Trump was also, of course, obsessed with the Russia investigation, as is evident in his pink slip letter to James Comey, in which he wrote, “I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation.” Before Trump pulled the plug on Comey, his advisors were supposedly tasked with an “almost ritualistic need to criticize the Russia investigation to assuage an anxious and angry president.”
White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is quickly lapping bush-league Sean Spicer as Trump’s more competent mouthpiece, is contesting the suggestion that Trump fired Comey in a brain-addled tantrum. On Thursday, Sanders told CBS News This Morning that it was really the FBI who wanted Comey to go:
Sanders said that the move to fire Comey came after a “consistent erosion of confidence in his ability to do his job.”
“Let’s not forget there was a near uprising after Comey from members of the FBI. This isn’t just about the president losing confidence. The rank-and-file members within the FBI had lost confidence in the director,” Sanders said.
“CBS This Morning” co-host Charlie Rose pointed out to Sanders that claims of a “near uprising” had been previously disputed by CBS News reporting.
Meanwhile, James Comey was spotted in “casual apparel” outside his home in Virginia. CNN shared the comparatively level-headed letter Comey wrote to his colleagues at the FBI upon his ousting, in which he clearly states that he believes Trump had the right to do whatever he wanted, though he does seem to insinuate that these are not normal times:
I have long believed that a President can fire an FBI Director for any reason, or for no reason at all. I’m not going to spend time on the decision or the way it was executed. 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.
It is very hard to leave a group of people who are committed only to doing the right thing. 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.
Working with you has been one of the great joys of my life. Thank you for that gift.
At least someone is holding it together.