A day after his sudden firing, the former FBI director wrote an email to his colleagues at the bureau assuring them that he will be okay (even if the Russia probe won’t be). In the letter, Comey notes that the president could fire him for any reason — “or no reason at all” — and urges agents to soldier on:
I have long believed that a President can fire an FBI Director for any reason, or for no reason at all. I’m not going to spend time on the decision or the way it was executed. I hope you won’t either. It is done, and I will be fine, although I will miss you and the mission deeply.
I have said to you before that, in times of turbulence, the American people should see the FBI as a rock of competence, honesty, and independence. What makes leaving the FBI hard is the nature and quality of its people, who together make it that rock for America.
It is very hard to leave a group of people who are committed only to doing the right thing. My hope is that you will continue to live our values and the mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution.
If you do that, you too will be sad when you leave, and the American people will be safer.
Working with you has been one of the great joys of my life. Thank you for that gift.
Several FBI employees told CBS News that they were touched by Comey’s message, but they didn’t appear to be heeding his advice. “I am not happy. I think this is bulls–,” said one special agent. “We are living in partisan times. Both sides criticized the director; that’s why he should still be in the job. The vast majority of the bureau is in favor of director Comey.”
On the night of Comey’s firing, another special agent said they were “literally in tears.” Morale at the FBI was already low, and the Washington Post reported on Wednesday that agents are furious. If Trump’s aim was to squash the investigation into his possible ties to Russia, the effort may have backfired:
One intelligence official who works on Russian espionage matters said they were more determined than ever to pursue such cases. Another said Comey’s firing and the subsequent comments from the White House are attacks that won’t soon be forgotten. Trump had “essentially declared war on a lot of people at the FBI,” one official said. “I think there will be a concerted effort to respond over time in kind.”