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- Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was reportedly “ecstatic” when she first heard President Donald Trump had fired FBI director James Comey because she believed Comey “had finally gotten what he had coming.”
- In “We The People: From Jesse Jackson to AOC, the End of Big Money and the Rise of a Movement,” journalist Ryan Grim reported that Clinton had to be talked out of publicly celebrating the move in its immediate aftermath.
- Clinton eventually released a statement slamming Trump for ousting the FBI director who was investigating him.
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Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, was initially thrilled when President Donald Trump fired then FBI director James Comey, according to a new book by Ryan Grim, the Washington bureau chief at The Intercept.
In “We’ve Got People: From Jesse Jackson to AOC, the End of Big Money and the Rise of a Movement,” Grim reported that Clinton was “ecstatic” when Trump ousted Comey and had to be talked out of publicly celebrating the move.
Grim wrote that Clinton was at her home in Chappaqua, New York when the news broke, and she immediately felt a sense of vindication.
“She had spent the winter and spring poring over survey and turnout data, calling friends and former aides relentlessly, analyzing and re-analyzing,” the book said. “It was, her friends believed, both part of her grieving process, but also holding her back from moving on. When she learned that Comey had been fired by Trump, she was ecstatic. Comey had finally gotten what he had coming.”
Comey was something of a bête noire for both Democrats and Republicans when he was FBI director. He drew significant scrutiny, in particular, for two actions he took during the 2016 election.
First, in July 2016, Comey took the unprecedented step of holding a press conference to announce the FBI would not be recommending that Clinton be charged as part of an investigation into her use of a private email server when she was secretary of state. Comey said her conduct was “extremely careless” but did not warrant criminal charges.
He was harshly criticized for delivering those remarks on the Clinton investigation because that authority typically falls to the attorney general, not the FBI director. In holding the news conference himself, Comey was accused of usurping the role of then Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Comey later said he felt he had no choice but to announce the results of the investigation himself, because he felt Lynch’s objectivity may have been compromised and he felt he had to protect the integrity of the FBI.
In October, in another unprecedented move, Comey announced in a letter to Congress that the bureau was reopening the Clinton email investigation. The FBI typically doesn’t comment on ongoing investigations, and Comey’s action infuriated Clinton and other Democrats, many of whom believed the announcement, which came just days before Election Day, tilted the election in Trump’s favor.
Indeed, Clinton has publicly stated several times since the election that she believes the two biggest factors that contributed to her election loss were Comey’s October statement and the public release of thousands of hacked Democratic emails by WikiLeaks throughout the campaign.
In May 2017, Trump had senior Justice Department officials compile memos evaluating Comey’s conduct during the Clinton email investigation. Trump ultimately used those memos to justify Comey’s firing.
Brian Fallon, one of Clinton’s campaign advisers, told Grim there was initially confusion over how the team should respond to Comey’s ouster.
“In the immediate aftermath, people weren’t sure how to respond,” Fallon said to Grim. “There were people who started buying into Trump’s rationale.”
Though the White House initially said Comey’s firing was based entirely on his handling of the Clinton investigation, Trump admitted on national television shortly after that he dismissed Comey because of “this Russia thing.” He added that he would have fired Comey whether or not DOJ officials had recommended it.