“I hope this is an instance of fake news.”
Photo by Rich Girard/Flickr.
THE GOOD NEWS:
Government transparency helps informed citizens move past the political spin and find the truth about some of our society’s most important issues. Citizen-powered tools like the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) are alive and well in 2018.
How much did people at the FBI love their former director James Comey? 116 pages of newly published emails from the time leading up to his firing and its aftermath show that no one wrote a single bad thing about him.
As Lawfare writes:
“[The emails] 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.”
The communications, released after a FOIA request from the site Lawfare, directly contradict claims made by President Donald Trump and his administration that Comey was a “nut job” who had hurt morale amongst the bureau’s rank and file members. They also match up nicely with an op-ed written by former FBI special agent Josh Campbell on why he left the bureau.
In fact, the entirety of communications released by the FBI after the FOIA request show an agency whose members deeply admired Comey and were blindsided by his dismissal, with one bureau chief actually thinking the whole thing was “fake news.”
Comey was famously in California the day he was fired last year, visiting agents at the Los Angeles bureau. After learning of his termination while watching the news, he took a plane back to Washington, D.C. Deirdre Fike, the FBI’s assistant director in charge, sent an email to her staff after Comey left, which reads:
“I will tell you that [Comey] truly felt the warmth from the employees as he walked out of that room. He will never forget that, nor the professionalism of the team who accompanied him back to the airport for his return to” Washington, DC.
The day before he was fired, Comey had visited the bureau’s Jacksonville office. In another email published by Lawfare, Jacksonville, special agent in charge Charles Spencer wrote to his staff the day after Comey’s firing:
“Director Comey … commented on what great work the Jacksonville Division was doing. Director Comey was a man of integrity and vision, he made a lasting impact on FBI leadership, diversity and our embracing of new technology.”
In fact, the news was so shocking that when Comey’s firing was first reported by CNN, Detroit field office head David Gelios wrote to his staff:
“I just saw CNN reporting that Director Comey has been fired by President Trump. I have no notification from HQ of any such thing. If I receive any information from HQ, I will advise. I’d ask all to stand by for clarification of this reporting. I am only sending this because I want everyone to know I have received no HQ confirmation of the reporting. I hope this is an instance of fake news.”