9 Trump Quotes About James Comey That Shed Light On His Changing Views
On Thursday, former FBI director James Comey will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, breaking his silence since President Trump fired him. The transcript of his testimony confirms many reports surrounding his firing — including that Trump pressed Comey to pledge his loyalty — but what has Trump said so far? These nine Trump quotes about Comey explain his changing views on the man he fired.
Those watching should expect to learn even more about the president' take on the matter. True to form, Trump is slated to live-tweet Comey's testimony if he feels the need to respond, Washington Post reporter Robert Costa tweeted. "I'm told by two WH sources that Pres. Trump does not plan to put down Twitter on Thursday. May live tweet if he feels the need to respond," the journalist wrote on Tuesday.
But Trump's tweeting will have to take place between talks at a religious conference, though, since he's attending the Faith & Freedom Coalition and is supposed to give a speech at around the same time as Comey's hearing.
So tune in both on TV and Twitter Thursday for live coverage tomorrow at about 10 a.m. ET. But meanwhile, here's what Trump has said about the man to date.
1On Comey's Initial Handling Of Hillary's Emails
During the campaign, Trump was a big critic of Comey's decision not to charge Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server. "No charges. Wow!" he tweeted with the hashtag #RiggedSystem.
2On The Reopening Of The Case
Naturally, Trump thought this was just grand, and he became a sudden cheerleader of the FBI director when Huma Abedin's emails were found on her husband Anthony Weiner's laptop, which led the FBI to reopen the case. Comey informed Congress of the decision, to Trump's delight, and potentially securing his election win in the process.
3"Brought Back His Reputation"
Trump was such a big fan of the reopening of the Clinton email investigation that he couldn't stop talking about it. Trump explained supporters in Grand Rapids, Michigan, just before the election that Comey had basically redeemed himself:
And I have to give the FBI credit. That was so bad what happened originally. And it took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made in light of the kind of opposition he had where they’re trying to protect her from criminal prosecution. You know that. It took a lot of guts ... I was not his fan, but I’ll tell you what: What he did, he brought back his reputation. He brought it back.
4Trump On Comey & Leaks
Trump has repeatedly obsessed on Comey and leaks. He tweeted video of the then FBI director giving testimony to Congress on the matter in March. Later in May, he wrote on Twitter, "I have been asking Director Comey & others, from the beginning of my administration, to find the LEAKERS in the intelligence community....."
Trump even alluded that he had recordings of their conversations and threatened to release them to the press. "James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!" he wrote.
5Comey & Clinton, Still
Months after the election, Trump continued to obsess over Comey's decision not to prosecute Clinton — this time after Clinton spoke about the 2016 race and said that Comey and Russian hackers influenced voters. Trump responded in several tweets:
FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds! The phony Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election. Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign.
6Firing The Director
Trump, of course, commented on his decision to fire Comey on Twitter, claiming that whoever replaced him would "do a far better job, bringing back the spirit and prestige of the FBI."
Perhaps the most fascinating look into Trump's thoughts on Comey, though, come from the dismissal letter he sent:
While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau. It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission.
8The Real Reason?
Trump explained his real reason during an interview with NBC's Lester Holt. It wasn't the recommendation by the Justice Department but rather a decision he had already made. "He's a showboat, he's grandstander, the FBI has been in turmoil," Trump said in the interview. "You know that, I know that. Everybody knows that. You take a look at the FBI a year ago, it was in virtual turmoil, less than a year ago. It hasn't recovered from that."
Trump also reiterated that Comey told him he wasn't under investigation. "I said, if it's possible would you let me know, am I under investigation? He said, 'You are not under investigation,'" Trump explained to Holt. Comey's testimony transcript confirms that he did reassure the president of this.
9"Crazy, A Real Nut Job"
The most remarkable thing that Trump has reportedly said about Comey, though, was not public. The conversation happened between Russians visiting the White House and Trump, according to a document that an American official read to The New York Times. According to the account, Trump said:
I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.
Obviously since then Trump has learned that pressure is not gone. According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Wednesday, 56 percent of Americans think the president is trying to interfere in Russia investigations, and some 61 percent think he fired Comey "to protect himself."
Comey's take on the matter could become a huge headache for the president. Be prepared for the live tweets from Trump — they'll be as exciting as the testimony, and seeing what he's said thus far, perhaps even more so.