The FBI is reeling from shock of Comey's unexpected firing

Agents are upset not only because Comey was fired, but because of how he was fired

By Matthew Rozsa

Published May 10, 2017 3:16PM (EDT)

 (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool, File)
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool, File)

Agents who work for the FBI are reported to be devastated at President Donald Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey.

Part of the problem, it seems, is with the way Trump dismissed Comey — namely, out of the blue and without so much as an opportunity to save face. As one source told The Los Angeles Times, Comey was "caught flat-footed" and only learned of his termination from a TV news report while speaking to FBI agents in Los Angeles.

As former FBI agent Lewis Schiliro told Politico, "I think the way it was done was not real nice. He could have asked for his resignation and given him a little bit of time to bow out gracefully." Another senior official told the site that "we were caught totally off guard." Yet another official told Politico that "no one knew this was coming. Everyone is just shocked that this happened."

Another problem is that the timing of Comey's firing raises questions about whether it was the result of the bureau's ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign's alleged relationship with Russia.

As one official told Politico, "Everyone is asking, ‘Why now? What is the reason for doing it now?’ If this had happened immediately after the election, that would be one thing. Everyone was thinking it may happen then. But now? People keep asking if it’s because of Russia."

Another agent said that "the working agents don’t like the way the FBI has been portrayed over the last six or eight or 10 months. I think this will be very tough. It’s really going to require a non-politicized effort to ensure the current investigations are allowed to proceed without any interference."

None of this has stopped one of Trump's greatest media boosters, Fox News host Sean Hannity, from praising the decision on the grounds that Comey was a "national embarrassment" for his handling of the Hillary Clinton email scandal. Hannity also tweeted on Wednesday that he believed many rank-and-file FBI agents were happy at the decision.


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Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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