Former FBI director James Comey said in a farewell letter to colleagues that he will “be fine,” CNN reported Wednesday, as White House officials said he had infuriated President Donald Trump with refusal to preview Senate testimony.
Comey was abruptly dismissed Tuesday by the Republican president, who said the issue was Comey’s inability to lead. But Trump floored many since it was Comey himself leading the investigation of Trump’s campaign and Russia.
“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,” Comey said in a letter to agents and colleagues.
“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,” Comey added.
The anger behind Trump’s firing of Comey had been building for months, but a turning point came when Comey refused to preview for top Trump aides his planned testimony to a Senate panel, the White House officials said.
Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had wanted a heads-up from Comey about what he would say at a May 3 hearing about his handling of an investigation into former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
When Comey refused, Trump and his aides considered that an act of insubordination and it was one of the catalysts to Trump’s decision this week to fire the FBI director, the officials said.
The sacking of Comey sparked a political firestorm in Washington and plunged the presidency into turmoil.
Furious Democrats suggested the FBI’s work will now be hopelessly tainted and demanded a special prosecutor akin to those appointed during Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal or the run-up to Bill Clinton’s impeachment.
The White House rejected the idea.
“We don’t think it’s necessary,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Sanders said the White House wanted the FBI probe — and parallel congressional investigations — to continue and to wrap up their work. “No one wants this to be finished and completed more than us.”
The White House says Comey’s firing was motivated solely by concerns over his handling of the high-stakes probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails.
The president personally defended his summary dismissal of Comey and rejected suggestions it was linked to the Russia investigation.
“He wasn’t doing a good job, it’s very simple, he was not doing a good job,” Trump told reporters as hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the White House chanting “shame on you!”
His comments came shortly after Trump hosted Russia’s top diplomat at the White House, in his highest-level Kremlin encounter since taking office.
Trump also took to Twitter saying: “James Comey will be replaced by someone who will do a far better job, bringing back the spirit and prestige of the FBI.”
“Comey lost the confidence of almost everyone in Washington, Republican and Democrat alike. When things calm down, they will be thanking me!”