- Drew Angerer/Getty Images
- Former FBI director James Comey made his Twitter presence publicly known in recent months and is a master at blasting out subtweets.
- Comey frequently tweets out quotes about truth and justice after President Donald Trump attacks the Russia investigation, the FBI, and the US intelligence community as a whole.
Former FBI director James Comey hasn’t been a public presence on Twitter for long, but he’s already a pro at using one of its key features – the subtweet.
Comey was overseeing the FBI’s Russia investigation when President Donald Trump fired him in May. Though the White House initially said Comey had been dismissed because of the way he handled the bureau’s investigation into former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, Trump later told NBC’s Lester Holt that “this Russia thing” had been a factor in his decision. He also reportedly said, during a private meeting with top Russian officials the day after firing Comey, that the former FBI director was a “nut job” whose dismissal had taken “great pressure” off of him.
Comey has been on Twitter since 2014, but he used to tweet under an anonymous handle. He went public in early November and began tweeting from the handle, @Comey.
Since then, and sometimes earlier, Comey has frequently taken to the social media platform to tweet quotes about justice and the rule of law, typically after Trump criticizes the ongoing Russia investigation, the FBI, or the broader US intelligence community.
On Friday, Comey appeared to weigh in when Trump responded cryptically to questions about whether he would pardon former national security adviser Michael Flynn, whom special counsel Robert Mueller charged earlier this month with one count of lying to investigators about his contacts with Russians.
“I don’t want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet. We’ll see what happens. Let’s see,” Trump told reporters on Friday. “I can say this: When you look at what’s gone on with the FBI and Justice Department, people are very, very angry.”
About two hours later, Comey tweeted out a quote from former Attorney General and Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson. “‘[T]he citizen’s safety lies in the prosecutor … who serves the law and not factional purposes,'” Comey wrote.
He also appeared to subtweet Flynn after the charge against him was revealed on December 1.
“‘But justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream,'” Comey tweeted, quoting his favorite scripture verse, from Amos.
Earlier in December, Comey defended the FBI after Trump launched a Twitter attack against the bureau and what he perceived as anti-Trump bias within its ranks.
“After years of Comey, with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation (and more), running the FBI, its reputation is in Tatters – worst in History!” Trump tweeted on December 3, two days after Mueller’s office announced the charge against Flynn. “But fear not, we will bring it back to greatness.”
Comey threw in his two cents shortly after, quoting his own testimony from June before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“I want the American people to know this truth: The FBI is honest. The FBI is strong. And the FBI is, and always will be, independent,” Comey wrote.
“.@FoxNews is MUCH more important in the United States than CNN, but outside of the U.S., CNN International is still a major source of (Fake) news, and they represent our Nation to the WORLD very poorly,” Trump tweeted. “The outside world does not see the truth from them!”
Comey took to the social media platform half an hour later, tweeting, “‘Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.'” He attributed the quote to Jefferson, who wrote it in a 1786 letter to the physician, James Currie.
In another instance, Comey tweeted about truth and justice after Trump attacked his credibility and the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
Trump said in November that he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin when he said he did not order Russia’s election meddling. Trump also lashed out at Comey, along with former CIA director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, calling them “political hacks.” All the men have consistently emphasized that Russia mounted an elaborate campaign to undermine the election and to propel Trump to victory.
“I mean, give me a break, they are political hacks,” Trump said of the three former intelligence officials. “So you look at it, I mean, you have Brennan, you have Clapper, and you have Comey. Comey is proven now to be a liar and he is proven now to be a leaker. So you look at that and you have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he had nothing to do with them.”
Like clockwork, Comey chimed in.
“‘If you want truth to go round the world you must hire an express train to pul it; but if you want a lie to go round the world, it will fly; it is light as a feather and a breath will carry it,'” the former FBI director tweeted after the president criticized him, quoting an 1855 sermon from the Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Trump also spoke out when the Russia investigation reached a new high in late October, after Mueller’s office unsealed the first charges, against former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former adviser and Manafort associate Rick Gates. That same day, the special counsel also unsealed court documents which showed that former campaign foreign-policy adviser George Papadopoulos had pleaded guilty over the summer to one count of lying to investigators about his interactions with Russia-linked entities.
“Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign,” Trump tweeted after the charges were made public. “But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????”
“Also, there is NO COLLUSION!” Trump concluded.
The same day, Comey tweeted a quote from Reinhold Niebuhr, the American theologian and ethicist who was the inspiration behind Comey’s original Twitter identity.
“‘Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary,'” the former FBI director tweeted, and attributed the quote to Niebuhr.