According to the NYT’s Michael Schmidt, today’s termination of James Comey was not an impromptu event: the “WH and DOJ had been working on firing Comey since at least last week. Sessions had been working to come up with reasons.” Still, only a handful of people got a heads up: Trump called Senators Lindsey Graham (R) and Diane Feinstein (D) before breaking the news. They are the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate committee running the Russia probe.
He did not, however, tell Comey, who according to the NYT, learned he was unemployed by hearing it on the TV.
Comey, who is three years into a 10-year term at the helm of the F.B.I., learned from news reports that he had been fired while addressing bureau employees in Los Angeles. While Mr. Comey spoke, television screens in the background began flashing the news. Shortly after, a letter was delivered to F.B.I. Headquarters in Washington.
Adding to the humiliationin his first reaction, Comey laughed, saying he thought it was a fairly funny prank. Then his staff started scurrying around in the background and told Mr. Comey that he should step into a nearby office.
Mr. Comey stopped addressing the group. He proceeded to shake hands with the employees he had been speaking to. Then he stepped into a side office, where he confirmed that he had been fired. At that point, he had not heard from the White House.
Mr. Comey’s day had begun in Florida, where he spoke to a group of police officers. He then flew to Los Angeles, where he was also scheduled to speak at a diversity meeting.
At the same time, Keith Schiller, the director of Oval Office operations at the White House, hand delivered a letter from Trump to Comey informing him of his firing late Tuesday afternoon. But Comey was not there to receive it.
In his letter, the president said he was dismissing Comey because it was time for a “new beginning” at the nation’s “crown jewel of law enforcement.”
“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to lead the Bureau,” Trump wrote. The recipient of the letter would be on the other end of the country at that moment.
Meanwhile, in a separate NBC report, a senior FBI official said they “had no idea this was coming. They are in shock there.”
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 9, 2017