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Leaked Documents Reveal Untold Details About Trump Firing James Comey: The White House Was Lying

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When President Donald Trump fired then FBI Director James Comey for what hindsight tells us were probably wholly politically motivated reasons, he inevitably created a media firestorm. There was a huge amount of speculation as to what actually went on behind the scenes. Now, though, thanks to the seemingly incredibly lax security and management at the White House and indeed throughout the Trump administration, a huge volume of leaked messages have emerged which give a quite incredible picture of how things went down.

After the president fired Comey there was some uncertainty about whether Comey, as a former FBI employee, would have to pay his way home from LAX or would be able to use the director’s plane. NBC recently reported that an irate Trump called McCabe a day after the firing asking why Comey had been permitted to return to Washington on an FBI plane. McCabe indicated that he hadn’t been consulted about the use of the plane but, had anyone asked, he would have approved the request. Thanks to one of these emails, we now have a small window into what went on at the FBI at the time.

On May 11, Gregory Cox, assistant director of the Critical Incident Response Group, emailed all of the Critical Incident Response Group thanking “all who were involved in efforts to bring home former Director Comey from Los Angeles on Tuesday evening.” The apparent defiance may be subtle, but it is unmistakable. Cox may not have known that his email dealt with a point the president had personally raised with the acting director, but he thanked his people for doing the right thing by Comey irrespective of politics he was surely aware of in a generic sense.

These emails are not the usual fare from special agents in charge and assistant directors. They are, to be sure, fairly measured in tone. Each assistant director and special agent in charge diligently communicates McCabe’s talking points to his or her employees. The messages about resilience are predictable enough, and there’s some tough love too—reminders that this is not the first transition the bureau has weathered and that everyone still has a job to do.

But the amount of warmth in the emails, both about Comey and for their people, is atypical of all-staff communications. These leaders operate at the highest level of the FBI; in a chain-of-command organization, they aren’t particularly accessible figures. But these emails, which were sent to entire divisions or field offices, are personal and intimate. Without overstating the matter or getting maudlin about it, it’s safe to say that these messages show leaders who are shaken and concerned. There is emotion in their voices and a deep concern for their people. One special agent in charge, who was out of state at a training, even offered to come back to the office if any of her people needed to talk to her.

The bottom line is that the documents tell a remarkably consistent story about the reaction inside the FBI to Comey’s firing, and it is not the story the White House has told about an agency in turmoil. It’s very much the story, rather, that McCabe told the Senate a few days after Comey’s dismissal. Someone, the documents show, stood before the American people the week of the firing and told the truth about the FBI. It just wasn’t Sarah Huckabee Sanders or Donald Trump.

This really is quite incredible. As if the authority of Donald Trump as President was not already undermined enough, we now see that a fired FBI Director can gain a huge amount more soft power and effective support than him simply by having some integrity, doing his job properly and conducting himself in a vaguely dignified way. Trump could learn a huge amount from Comey. But, he won’t of course – that’s the result of being so breathtakingly self-centered that you refuse to try to better yourself in any way.


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