President Donald Trump characterized Democrats as hypocrites and attacked the credibility of fired FBI Director James Comey in a flurry of posts to Twitter Wednesday morning, promising to restore the “spirit and prestige of the FBI.”
“The Democrats have said some of the worst things about James Comey, including the fact that he should be fired, but now they play so sad!” Trump wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning following his surprise firing of the FBI director.
“James Comey will be replaced by someone who will do a far better job, bringing back the spirit and prestige of the FBI,” Trump promised in a second post, adding in a third that “Comey lost the confidence of almost everyone in Washington, Republican and Democrat alike. When things calm down, they will be thanking me!”
The president also retweeted a post from the conservative Drudge Report that linked to a story headlined “10 major FBI scandals on Comey’s watch.”
Comey, a former U.S. attorney and deputy attorney general appointed by former President George W. Bush, was picked to lead the FBI by former President Barack Obama and was in the fourth year of a 10 year term at the bureau.
Under Comey’s leadership, the FBI was in the midst of an investigation into Russian interference into last year’s presidential election as well as possible ties between Trump associates and the Kremlin. Trump’s decision to abruptly fire Comey has incensed Democrats and some prominent Republicans and raised doubts about the integrity of the FBI’s investigation into the 2016 election and the Trump campaign.
Comey’s firing marks a dramatic shift in position for Trump, who during the presidential campaign celebrated the FBI director, especially after he announced with weeks to go until Election Day that the bureau was examining potentially new evidence relating to its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email practices during her tenure as secretary of state. Trump said the decision to examine the fresh evidence “took a lot of guts.”
The FBI’s investigation into Clinton, and especially Comey’s announcement so close to Election Day that the bureau was still examining her email scandal, proved to be a powerful rhetorical weapon with which Trump regularly attacked his Democratic opponent. But in his dismissal letter to Comey, it was the FBI director’s handling of the Clinton investigation that served as the basis for Trump’s decision to fire him.
Asked Wednesday morning when Trump’s opinion of Comey had changed, deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the shift had “taken place over a period of time” and that the Comey had been dismissed at the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough asked Sanders if Trump stood by his effusive campaign trail praise of Comey, to which she replied “knowing the president, I would say yes, he does.”
At a press conference Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) renewed his demands for an independent probe into Russian election interference as well any ties between Moscow and Trump associates. Without such an independent investigation, “every American will rightly suspect that the decision to fire Director Comey was part of a cover-up.”
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters that “I don’t think there’s any alternative at this point” to a special prosecutor taking over the investigation. “I worry that they’ll refuse the special prosecutor and we’ll never hear again from the FBI investigation,” he said.
During the presidential campaign, Schumer and other Democrats were harshly critical of Comey over his public handling of the Clinton investigation, and Clinton herself has publicly blamed the FBI director, at least in part, for her surprise defeat last November. Schumer said in early November that he had lost confidence in Comey, a quote Trump recalled late Tuesday in a post to Twitter attacking the minority leader.
“Cryin’ Chuck Schumer stated recently, ‘I do not have confidence in him (James Comey) any longer.’ Then acts so indignant. #draintheswamp,” the president wrote.