Trump "essentially declared war" on the FBI with James Comey's firing

The president wants the bureau to stop digging into his alleged collusion with Russia and instead go after leakers

By Matthew Rozsa

Published May 11, 2017 3:10PM (EDT)

 (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)
(AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

While Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine tried to downplay the implications of President Donald Trump firing FBI Director James Comey, she did so by arguing that "any suggestion that this is somehow going to stop the F.B.I.’s investigation of the attempts by the Russians to influence the elections last fall is really patently absurd."

A new report indicates that Collins, not Trump's critics, is the one falling for an absurdity.

Trump's reasons for being angry at Comey included the fact that the FBI Director wouldn't support the president's unfounded claim of having been wiretapped by President Barack Obama and wouldn't investigate leaks to journalists, according to a report by The Washington Post. The Post reported that Trump pressured the FBI to focus on investigating leaks regarding the bureau's investigation into the Trump campaign's alleged collusion with the Russian government instead of concentrating on the investigation itself. They even pushed for investigations of the leaking of information that was not involve classified or highly sensitive — which isn't illegal.

It is notable that sources familiar with the FBI's investigation claim that Trump's sentence, "I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation," is actually incorrect — although it does reinforce the message that Trump wants sent to the bureau about how he ought to be treated.

One official told The Post that Trump's actions "essentially declared war on a lot of people at the FBI. I think there will be a concerted effort to respond over time in kind." Similarly, President Thomas O'Connor of the FBI Agents Association referred to Comey's firing as "a gut punch. We didn’t see it coming, and we don’t think Director Comey did anything that would lead to this."


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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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