Despite criticism mounting on both sides of the aisle after the firing of FBI director James Comey Tuesday, President Donald Trump tried to paint the outrage over Comey’s termination as partisan hypocrisy.
“The Democrats have said some of the worst things about James Comey,” he wrote early Wednesday on Twitter, adding that some had called for Comey’s removal in the past. “But now they play so sad!”
Trump also said he would find a replacement for the director, and promised to replace Comey with someone who could “[bring] back the spirit and prestige of the FBI.”
Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is serving as Acting Director of the bureau until Trump names a replacement.
Trump fired Comey Tuesday after recommendations from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, writing in a letter that it was critical to “public trust and confidence” in the bureau. The news that Trump had fired the FBI director plunged the nation’s capital into political chaos, particularly given Comey’s role in leading a criminal investigation into possible connections between Trump’s advisers and Russian interference in the presidential election.
Though the Justice Department asserted that the recommendation to fire Comey had resulted from his handling of Hillary Clinton’s emails investigation, Trump had previously — if inconsistently — praised Comey for how he had handled that investigation.
Shortly after Trump’s letter was signed, Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced the news to a smattering of reporters outside the door of the press office, according to the Washington Post. But Trump’s letter informing Comey he was fired did not reach him, who was in Los Angeles speaking to FBI employees, before he discovered the news from television reports, the New York Times reported.
Tuesday night, Trump took aim specifically at Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, accusing the top Democrat of “act[ing] so indignant” when he had spoken out against the agency director in the past.
But Wednesday morning, Trump also seemed to nod to the growing chorus of Republicans who also expressed concerns about Comey’s firing and how the termination was handled. Several Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. and Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said they were troubled by the news, and Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami, called for a “a transparent explanation” for the firing and also repeated his call for “a Select Committee with full investigatory powers to thoroughly examine this matter.”
Trump wrote, “When things calm down, they will be thanking me!”