| The word shock isn’t strong enough. Only once (Bill Clinton in 1993) has a President fired an FBI director. Democrats — no fans of Comey, mind you — are stunned and outraged. They say Trump’s reasoning for dumping Comey — that he didn’t like how the FBI director treated Clinton during the campaign — is BS. Many note that Trump repeatedly and publicly cheered Comey’s actions during the campaign when it came to Clinton. And they can’t believe the timing: If the President were so upset by what Comey did in the summer and fall of 2016, why didn’t he sack him on January 20? Comey’s Russia investigation was getting too close for Trump’s comfort, Dems say, and that’s why he was let go.
Republicans were more muted. Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he was troubled by the firing, especially the timing. Political-twin Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham split on the move, with McCain expressing disappointment and Graham saying getting rid of Comey (who was once a registered Republican) was fine with him. Rep. Justin Amash of the House Freedom Caucus tweeted that he wants an independent commission on Russia’s election interference. Other Republicans — we’re looking at you, House Speaker Paul Ryan — were nowhere to be found.
In pundit world, people went off. Our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, called the firing a “grotesque abuse of power” and “the kind of thing that goes on in non-democracies.” Lots of people brought up Richard Nixon and the infamous Saturday Night Massacre (though the Nixon Presidential Library reminded us that even Nixon didn’t fire his FBI director). CNN’s Chris Cillizza said it was Trump’s most unpredictable and dangerous move yet. And of course, the late-night shows weighed in.
We don’t know yet what Comey’s reaction to his firing is, but we do know how he found out. Like the rest of us, he saw it on TV. Comey was talking to FBI agents in Los Angeles when TVs inside the room broke the news that he was fired. Comey reportedly made a joke to lighten the mood, then called FBI headquarters and got official word that he was gone.