When President Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Americans that Trump had “lost confidence in their director.”
However, this was not true. One of those pieces of evidence was Trump told Lester Holt that he fired Comey because of the Russia Investigation. But now, newly released emails uncovered through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request proves that Trump and Sanders lied to Americans.
At the time, Sanders was the Deputy White House Press Secretary. She then claimed that she spoke with FBI agents, saying that she had “heard from countless members of the FBI that are grateful and thankful for the president’s decision.”
She also said Trump believed “Director Comey was not up to the task” and “that he wasn’t the right person in the job,” before adding that Trump “wanted somebody that could bring credibility back to the FBI.”
But the new documents obtained by Benjamin Wittes, editor in chief of Lawfare and a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, empirically prove that this was all a lie, and that Comey’s firings were a cover-up from the beginning of Trump’s presidency.
As Lawfare noted on Monday:
[The documents] contain not a word that supports the notion that the FBI was in turmoil. They contain not a word that reflects gratitude to the president for removing a nut job. There is literally not a single sentence in any of these communications that reflects criticism of Comey’s leadership of the FBI. Not one special agent in charge describes Comey’s removal as some kind of opportunity for new leadership. And if any FBI official really got on the phone with Sanders to express gratitude or thanks “for the president’s decision,” nobody reported that to his or her staff.
The records also show that on the same day Sanders was fabricating stories of agents losing faith in Comey, an FBI special agent in charge of the Knoxville filed office emailed their staff, telling them, “Unexpected news such as this is hard to understand but I know you all know our Director stood for what is right and what is true!!! … He truly made us better when we needed it the most.”
And the next day, the agent sent another email to his staff, directing them to “Follow up with your squads” and “make sure our/your folks are doing OK. Check with them today, tomorrow….you get the idea.”
Amy Hess, the special agent in charge of the Louisville field office, criticized Sanders’ remarks: “On a personal note, I vehemently disagree with any negative assertions about the credibility of this institution or the people herein.”
Michael DeLeon, the special agent in charge of the Phoenix field office, wrote that “everyone is surprised and we are certainly disappointed with the events surrounding this matter.”
“We all felt the pain associated with the loss of a leader who was fully engaged and took great pride in the FBI organization and our employees. Simply stated, Director Comey will be missed,” DeLeon wrote.
This was the sentiment from FBI offices all around the country. As Lawfare writes:
The first reaction the documents reflect is simple shock, confusion and disbelief. The words “unprecedented,” “tumultuous,” “shock” and “surprise” appear in a great many of the emails. Two days after the firing, the assistant director of the International Operations Division, almost certainly Carlos Cases (the author is identified in the documents only as “Carlos” but is identifiable from the division affiliated with the email address), described the period as “a whirlwind of shock at the suddenness of the departure of Director Comey and concern with what the future will hold.”