by Elliot Hannon · May 10, 2017
James Comey prepares to testify before the Senate Judicary Committee on Capitol Hill Dec. 9, 2015.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
A day after he learned of his dismissal on television, former FBI Director James Comey penned a farewell letter to his FBI colleagues. The magnanimous note amounts to Comey’s first public statement since being fired.
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.
It’s tempting to read between the lines of Comey’s letter, but it reads like a reminder of purpose and duty that any leader might send on the way out of office. The fact that Comey led with instructions to disregard the nature of his dismissal and to continue to focus on the work at hand, however, is another indication of how poorly his dismissal is being received at the bureau.