Former FBI Director James Comey reportedly was at odds with President Donald Trump long before his abrupt dismissal Tuesday
The New York Times reports that after Trump had made the widely discredited allegation that President Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower before Trump’s inauguration, an astonished Comey told associates that Trump’s behavior was “outside the realm of normal” and “crazy.”
When Comey testified before the House Intelligence Committee in March that the FBI had “no information that supports” Trump’s wiretapping claims, Trump was said to have been livid and grew increasingly vocal about wanting to fire Comey.
Trump was also said to have been annoyed when Comey during a Senate panel said he was “mildly nauseous” about the possibility he had influenced the 2016 presidential election. The Times’ Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush reported that Trump took the comment as a slight of his electoral victory.
As the weeks dragged on, Trump ultimately declared there was “something wrong with” Comey, The Times said.
In Comey’s dismissal letter issued Tuesday, Trump said he had concurred with assessments by his attorney general and deputy attorney general that Comey was “not able to effectively lead the bureau” given the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
The next day, the White House deputy press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said the administration was exploring the possibility of firing Comey as early as November.
“He’d lost confidence in Director Comey and, frankly, he’d been considering letting Director Comey go since the day he was elected,” Sanders said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Statements by Trump both before and after the election, however, appear to contradict the White House’s accounts.
“The FBI – after discovering new emails, is reopening their investigation into Hillary Clinton,” Trump said at a rally in October, according to NBC News. “I have great respect for the FBI for righting this wrong.”
In mid-November, Trump said of Comey: “I respect him a lot.”
Comey’s dismissal comes amid reports of the FBI’s “accelerating” investigation into the Trump campaign’s suspected ties to Russia. Comey was also reported to have become increasingly occupied with the investigation – receiving daily updates instead of weekly ones, according to officials cited in a Wall Street Journal report.