There were few people who despised James Comey more than those political operatives working for Hillary Clinton in Brooklyn during the 2016 campaign. But word of the FBI director’s firing was met with fear, not joy, on Tuesday.
Sen. Tim Kaine, Clinton’s running mate, Robby Mook, the former secretary of state’s campaign manager and Brian Fallon, her press secretary, all expressed skepticism at why Comey was fired now — in the midst of the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election.
“Trump firing Comey shows how frightened the Admin is over Russia investigation,” Kaine tweeted in response to the news. “Comey firing part of a growing pattern by White House to cover-up the truth.”
Mook, who has been markedly critical of Comey since the 2016 election, tweeted that he was “surprised” by the fact that he can’t see “how this bodes well for the Russia investigation.”
“I was as frustrated, concerned and disappointed as anyone with Director Comey’s handling of the email investigation, but President Trump just fired the man investigating how Russia meddled in our election and whether members of his campaign were involved, an investigation President Trump called ‘charade’ only 24 hours ago,” Mook said in a statement. “It’s equally concerning that our attorney general, who lied about his own meetings with the Russians, approved Director Comey’s firing.”
Trump on Tuesday fired Comey after his attorney general and deputy attorney general recommended his removal. In a letter to Comey, deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the FBI director was fired, in part, for his handling of the Clinton email investigation.
But Clinton aides said they find that hard to believe. Much of what Comey is cited for doing wrong happened before Trump heralded Comey during a January event at the White House, warmly shaking his hand and commenting on how “famous” he had become.
Instead, Clinton aides believe Comey was fired because of his ongoing investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election.
“I’m not shedding any tears for Comey personally -he hurt FBI’s reputation- but I do worry whether we ever get to the bottom of Russia now,” tweeted Fallon, who used to serve as a Justice Department spokesman.
The view of Comey dropped considerably within Clinton’s campaign after the FBI director held a July 2016 news conference to brief reporters and the world on their investigation into Clinton’s emails. There was outright hatred for Comey when, days before the election, he released a letter that said he had reopened the investigation into Clinton because some emails from aide Huma Abedin were discovered on a computer used by disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner.
Clinton has said that the letter, in combination with other factors, cost her the election. And her former aides entirely agree.
Glen Caplin, a former Clinton spokesman who now works as a senior adviser for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, echoed Fallon.
“I am no Comey fan, but POTUS firing FBI Director conducting investigation into campaign is indefensible,” Caplin tweeted. “Need independent investigation ASAP.”
And in a reference to former President Richard Nixon’s 1973 Saturday Night Massacre, where the President fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox and a series of other top Justice officials resigned, former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta tweeted, “@realDonaldTrump Didn’t you know you’re supposed to wait til Saturday night to massacre people investigating you?”
Hillary Clinton’s office did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment on Comey’s dismissal.