James Comey’s first interview since President Trump fired him as director of the FBI has enraged his former agents, who deluged The Daily Beast with their disdain as they watched him tell his side of the story to George Stephanopoulos on Sunday night.
Seven current or former FBI agents and officials spoke throughout and immediately after the broadcast. There was a lot of anger, frustration, and even more emojis—featuring the thumbs-down, frowny face, middle finger, and a whole lot of green vomit faces.
One former FBI official sent a bourbon emoji as it began; another sent the beers cheers-ing emoji. The responses became increasingly angry and despondent as the hourlong interview played out.
“Hoover is spinning in his grave,” said a former FBI official. “Making money from total failure.”
When a promo aired between segments announcing Comey’s upcoming interview with The View, the official grew angrier.
“Good lord, what a self-serving self-centered jackass,” the official said. “True to form he thinks he’s the smartest guy around.”
A current FBI official said it was bizarre that Comey seemed so pleased with the whole episode. “It’s how happy he looked on TV while cashing in on the biggest mistake in history. His mistake,” they said. “Jim Comey made that mistake. We all just wonder what could have been and what we could’ve done to change it.”
There was one former official who spoke out in support of Comey, saying the former director had seemed honest and heartfelt. “I thought he was highly trustworthy and very transparent, like watching someone in confession,” the former official said. “It seems like he’s still wrestling with it.”
The six others who spoke to The Daily Beast did not respond positively to the interview by its end.
One longtime Team Comey source—who is still an FBI agent—sent thumbs-up emojis repeatedly during the first half hour, but even this loyalist began to lose patience by the halfway mark—sending a frowny face. A few minutes later there was a nauseous emoji, and then a poop emoji after the final segment.
Another former FBI official not historically known for their use of emojis, sent a bowing emjoi which—they explained in a follow up message—they believed to mean “slamming my head into something, obviously.”
An additional source, who works frequently with the FBI, said they had refused to watch the extended cut of the interview altogether. “Didn’t watch it—I don’t care, he’s basically a scumbag. I don’t know how they’re letting him write a book in the middle of an investigation that he’s part of. I wonder if he had his book cleared by the intelligence community? He’s supposed to but I bet he didn’t.”
The former FBI director was fired by President Trump on May 9, 2017. Comey responded by leaking his memos about conversations with Trump to The New York Times, which kick-started the special counsel investigation led by Comey’s predecessor, Robert Mueller. That investigation focuses on Russia influencing the 2016 election and any potential connections, assistance, or cooperation of those in Trump’s orbit.
Comey quickly wrote a book about his experiences with Trump, which comes out this week. The interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos was the first stop of his book publicity tour.
The much-anticipated book has been met with less than positive responses from those on the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Comey has been named by Hillary Clinton as a major reason for her loss in 2016. Clinton insiders told The Daily Beast that Comey should “beg for forgiveness,” not use his book to try and explain away his actions.
Days before the election, Comey publicly announced that he was reopening the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server, but he made no mention of the simultaneous inquires being made into Russian links to members of Trump’s team.
This was seen by many inside the FBI as Comey inserting the agency into the campaign, which was especially unwise coming so close to the election, when the agency tries to abstain from anything that could have political consequences.
Comey’s ouster by Trump came as a surprise to him—and everyone else—and resulted in what appeared to be a massive outpouring of support from within the FBI and those close to the bureau—there were even T-shirts printed bearing Comey’s face.
FBI sources who did not support Comey’s decision to announce the reopening of the Clinton email investigation still stood by him at the time and were outraged at the way in which Trump fired the director. He learned of his dismissal after reading it on a television screen inside the Los Angeles FBI building where he was speaking to agents.
Those same current and former FBI agents and officials—and others—did not respond well to Comey’s interview Sunday night.
Support for Comey has dwindled as those who worked closely with him and initially supported him began to see his book and his public interactions—including Twitter selfies in Iowa—as self-serving and gauche, four sources said.
Their anger has grown in recent months as agents have come to see Comey as the reason for the “current shitshow… that is the Trump presidency,” one former official, who voted for Trump, explained.
Hence the onslaught of emojis when the interview with Comey began airing Sunday night. The final message sent by one source early Monday morning was the bright red SOS emoji.