President Donald Trump asserted that both Democrats and Republicans will thank him in the future for firing former FBI Director James Comey. The president's comments arrived amid accusations that he had dismissed Comey over his Bureau's investigation into Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential race.
Trump fired Comey May 9. The White House cited a memo from deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein in which he criticized the former FBI director's handling of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server.
Senate Minority Leader Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York promptly blasted Trump for the decision, arguing that Trump's dismissal of Comey during an FBI investigation into whether members of the president's campaign colluded with Russian officials was an abuse of executive power.
"I told the president, 'Mr. President, with all due respect, you are making a big mistake,'" Schumer said, according to The Hill.
On May 10, Trump took to social media to blast critics of his decision, noting that members of both parties had previously been critical of Comey.
"Comey lost the confidence of almost everyone in Washington, Republican and Democrat alike," Trump tweeted out. "When things calm down, they will be thanking me!"
Hours later, the president took to social media again to accuse Democratic lawmakers of being hypocritical.
"Dems have been complaining for months & months about Dir. Comey," Trump tweeted out. "Now that he has been fired they PRETEND to be aggrieved. Phony hypocrites!"
Outside of social media, the only comment that the president had offered on Comey's dismissal arrived shortly before he met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office.
"[Comey] wasn't doing a good job," Trump told reporters, according to the New York Post. "Very simply. He was not doing a good job."
Trump's meeting with Lavrov was attended by Russian media, while U.S. reporters were not invited, Fox News reports.
While the White House officially stated that Comey was fired following Rosenstein's recommendation on May 9, several anonymous White House officials told Politico that Trump had been openly talking about dismissing the FBI director a week beforehand. Trump had allegedly been frustrated by Comey's investigation into his presidential campaign's potential links to Russian officials.
Several congressional officials have said that Comey requested Rosenstein to allocate more Justice Department resources to the Russian probe. Comey had made the request roughly a week before his termination, although it is not clear if his message was relayed to the White House.
"I'm told as soon as Rosenstein arrived, there was a request for additional resources for the investigation and that a few days afterwards, [Comey] was sacked," Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois told The New York Times. "I think the Comey operation was breathing down the neck of the Trump campaign and their operatives, and this was an effort to slow down the investigation."
On May 10, White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that Trump had been considering firing Comey since November 2016.
"The president has lost confidence in Director Comey and, frankly, he'd been considering letting Director Comey go since the day he was elected," Sanders said, according to CNN.