Fired FBI Director James Comey bid his colleagues farewell in a letter released Wednesday, urging them not to dwell on his abrupt dismissal but to instead remain focused on the work that bureau does.
“I have long believed that a President can fire an FBI Director for any reason, or for no reason at all,” Comey wrote in his letter’s opening lines. “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.”
President Donald Trump fired Comey Tuesday evening, a surprise move that reportedly caught even some members of his own administration off-guard. Comey, who was traveling on bureau business in Los Angeles at the time, reportedly learned of his firing from media reports and was read Trump’s letter firing him over the phone.
The dismissal comes amid an FBI investigation into Russian interference into last year’s presidential election as well as any possible ties between the Kremlin and individuals with ties to Trump or his campaign. Comey had recently informed the Senate Intelligence Committee that he had requested additional resources for the Russia investigation from the Justice Department.
The ostensible reason behind Trump’s decision to fire Comey was outlined in a memo from newly-confirmed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Much of that memo focused on Comey’s unusually public handling of the bureau’s investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. Trump’s willingness to fire Comey over his handling of the Clinton investigation marked a departure from his behavior on the campaign trail, where he celebrated Comey’s “guts” in announcing with days to go before the election that the bureau was investigating potentially new evidence related to Clinton’s email system.
Clinton has blamed Comey’s late-in-the-game announcement, amongst other issues, for her surprise defeat last November. Trump took great delight throughout the campaign, but especially in its closing days, in attacking Clinton over the email scandal.
In his letter, Comey said that working with his FBI colleagues “has been one of the great joys of my life.”
“I have said to you before that, in times of turbulence, the American people should see the FBI as a rock of competence, honesty, and independence,” he wrote. “My hope is that you will continue to live our values and the mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution. If you do that, you too will be sad when you leave, and the American people will be safer.”