Ousted FBI Director James Comey has written a farewell letter obtained by CNN that says he believes the president has the right to fire an FBI director, but he’s not going to “spend time on the decision or the way it was executed.”
The letter is also notable for the words it doesn’t mention: Donald Trump and Russia. Comey wrote that he had “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.”
Shimon Prokupecz, a law enforcement beat reporter for CNN, first obtained the letter and posted it on Twitter. You can read the letter in full above.
The letter marks Comey’s first comments since being fired by President Donald Trump. The FBI director first learned he’d been fired by watching the news break on television as he was speaking to FBI agents in Los Angeles, CNN reported. He then cancelled an appearance in LA later that evening, and flew home.
“People close to Comey say he felt compelled to say something, but didn’t want to grandstand,” Prokupecz wrote on Twitter of the letter, which he obtained on May 10, the day after Comey’s firing, which the White House maintains was driven by Comey’s controversial handling of Hillary Clinton’s emails.
In his own letter to Comey, Trump had said he felt new leadership was essential at the FBI. Trump’s firing decision was made at the recommendation of top Justice officials, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Even Clinton has argued that Comey’s revelation shortly before the election that the FBI was re-opening its investigation into her emails may have influenced the outcome. The investigation did not result in charges.
Critics have challenged the Hillary email motive for the firing, saying the timing makes no sense, and arguing that it’s wrong for Trump to remove an FBI director whose agency is investigating Trump’s campaign for possible collusion with purported Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.