As news of one of perhaps the most consequential moves of US President Donald Trump’s short tenure reverberated across the political landscape, reactions were mixed.
A wide range of voices, from voters and potential FBI recruits to political notables, spoke out as news of FBI Director James Comey’s ouster filtered through to the public and members of the political classes. Reactions ranged from incredulity and worry to pragmatism and even glee.
FBI’s next generation reacts
Potential FBI recruits reacted to the firing of Comey at a recruitment event for women and minorities interested in becoming federal agents in Los Angeles.
One attendee, Kelly McBride, said that she was on her way to the event when she heard the news. “It was very surprising,” she said. “I felt sad when I heard it.”
Amanda Pietromonaco, another woman attending the event, echoed the sentiment, and said the news was “devastating.”
However, she said that the development wouldn’t deter her from wanting to apply to to the Bureau.
“Not at all. It makes me want to apply more,” she said.
Comey was set to speak at the event, but did not attend after the news of his firing.
Ikaika Hall said that he was “taken aback” by the news and said that it was disappointing that he was not going to be able to hear Comey speak.
“It’s going to be interesting to see the direction that the president takes now,” he said.
Another attendee, Ricardo Mireles, had brought his class to the event and was “very excited” to have them meet the director. He expressed disappointment that Comey had been dismissed.
“I felt that he was in a unique place to try to ensure that there was justice and review on this administration and so I thought it was very unfortunate that he got fired.”
Following a town hall hosted by Iowa’s Republican House member Rod Blum in Cedar Rapids, attendees expressed their reservations with the move, even making comparisons to the Watergate scandal.
“(The news) reminded me of my mom telling me about the Nixon era. It reminded me of corruption in the Executive Branch,” Courtney Rowe, who said that she would like to run against Blum for Congress as a Democrat, said.
“The FBI director should be able to operate independently. And this puts a precedent in place that whoever gets this job next will not feel that they are able to investigate the president because they will worry about their own job.”
There were also concerns from those who attended about the integrity of the role and how secure Comey’s replacement would be while investigating the Russia connection.
“I definitely question the intention and the honesty of the current administration and their ability to allow justice to run its course, whether that’s investigating ties with Russia,” Laura Shaw, another town hall attendee, said.
“It seems like President Trump is being less than honest about his ties. And anyone who is willing to oppose him in any way is not safe.”
Former Attorney General Eric Holder took to Twitter to express his support for the “career men and women” of the FBI and Department of Justice in the face of Comey’s dismissal.
“To the career men and women at DOJ/FBI: you know what the job entails and how to do it. Be strong and unafraid. Duty. Honor. Country,” he wrote.
On the other side of the political divide, longtime Trump associate Roger Stone reveled in the news.
“Somewhere Dick Nixon is smiling,” he wrote, referencing the “Saturday Night Massacre,” one of the most dramatic turns of events in the Watergate scandal — former President Richard Nixon’s firing of Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox.
Others in his party were not so ecstatic about the FBI boss’ dismissal.
“I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination,” Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, said in a statement.
Arizona Sen. John McCain said he was “disappointed” by the incident. Sen. Bob Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and occasionally advised the Trump campaign last year, said he also had concerns, while Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska said in a statement: “Regardless of how you think Director Comey handled the unprecedented complexities of the 2016 election cycle, the timing of this firing is very troubling.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, often a thorn in the President’s side, supported the decision, citing the rancor of the Presidential campaign as reason to clean house.
“Given the recent controversies surrounding the director, I believe a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well. I encourage the President to select the most qualified professional available who will serve our nation’s interests,” the South Carolina lawmaker said.
For former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s former colleagues, who have more reason than most to loathe the former director given his undue influence over the outcome of last year’s Presidential election, word of the FBI director’s firing was met with fear, not joy.
Sen. Tim Kaine, Clinton’s running mate, suggested a direct line between Comey’s firing and his agency’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to the Kremlin.
“Trump firing Comey shows how frightened the Admin is over Russia investigation,” Kaine tweeted in response to the news. “Comey firing part of a growing pattern by White House to cover-up the truth.”
Robby Mook, the former secretary of state’s campaign manager, who has been markedly critical of Comey since the 2016 election, tweeted that he was “surprised” by the fact that he can’t see “how this bodes well for the Russia investigation.”