Clinton officials respond to Comey firing with suspicion, not satisfaction
WASHINGTON — After railing against FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, Democrats aligned with her presidential campaign reacted to his firing not with satisfaction — but with deep suspicion.
Among the former Clinton officials weighing in was her campaign manager Robby Mook. Despite frustration and disappointment over the way Comey handled the Clinton investigation, the announcement “terrifies me,” said Mook.
Brian Fallon, who was a top communications official during the campaign, said he’s “not shedding any tears for Comey,” even as his firing makes him “worry whether we ever get to the bottom of Russia now.”
In a letter to Comey, Trump cited as cause for the FBI director’s firing his handling of the investigation into Clinton’s private email server, including public statements he made leading up to the presidential election. Yet Comey’s judgment over the email investigation has been an issue for several months. As recently as late January, Trump was seen patting Comey on the back during a White House reception to honor law enforcement officers.
What’s new is that Comey’s investigation into potential ties between Russia and Trump campaign officials is heating up, including whether there is any evidence of collusion between the two as Russia sought to bolster Trump’s campaign and hurt Clinton’s, according to numerous U.S. intelligence agencies.
The firing also comes days after Comey testified before Congress about his handling of the email investigation during which he mistakenly stated that the FBI had obtained thousands of new emails from a former Clinton aide, Huma Abedin. While the FBI later corrected the misstatement, it appears to have given the White House an opening to fire the FBI director.
Comey came under fire from both Republicans and Democrats throughout the course of the Clinton investigation. It was days before the Nov. 8, 2016, election that Comey announced his team had found additional emails on the laptop of her aide, Huma Abedin, which the Clinton campaign blames for depressing votes in critical battlegrounds that Clinton lost to Trump by a small margin. During the hearing, Comey said he was “mildly nauseous” if his actions had any effect on the presidential election, while insisting he had no choice but to inform the public about the emails.
They also faulted Comey for speaking out about the investigation in July, when he explain why he decided against bringing charges against Clinton.
It was a break with normal FBI protocol, yet Comey may have felt pressure to speak out after former President Bill Clinton drew criticism for boarding the plane and having a private conversation with former Attorney General Loretta Lynch.