Few Democrats suffered such severe political whiplash over the firing of FBI Director James Comey as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Over the course of just a few months, Schumer has shifted wildly on the FBI director. The Democratic leader heaped praise on Comey for decisions that benefitted Democrats and tried to damn Comey for decisions that hurt Democrats. On Tuesday, Schumer suggested the decision to fire Comey was indicative of a “cover-up.”
Schumer held a press conference on Tuesday after President Donald Trump fired Comey, blasting the decision and telling reporters he earlier told Trump that he was making a mistake in firing Comey. But a reporter immediately brought up a different opinion Schumer had of Comey last November.
“Sen. Schumer, you told me last year before the election that you lost confidence in Jim Comey because of how he handled the email scandal,” one reporter said. “Do you think that the president’s explanation … has credibility?”
Schumer became a bit defensive.
Schumer then said Trump should have fired Comey earlier in his young presidency if he had some of the same concerns as Democrats.
It was a clever ploy. But it cannot hide the fact that Democrats have hated Comey for months. Many blame Comey for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s losing the election. Comey famously released a letter to Congress just before the Nov. 8 election indicating that he was reopening an investigation into how Clinton handled classified emails.
Comey, being Comey, closed the new investigation in record time, ending the investigation two days before Election Day and enraging Republicans by publicly declaring he still would not recommend charges against Clinton.
Schumer indicated Comey’s handling of the matter was a deal-breaker.
“I do not have confidence in him any longer,” Schumer said of Comey on Nov. 2.
Schumer called Comey’s letter to Congress “appalling.”
Schumer is far from the only Democrat who has questioned Comey’s judgement or called for his firing.
“Maybe he’s not in the right job,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told CNN on Nov. 2.
Clinton adviser James Carville went so far as to bizarrely suggest Comey, House Republicans, and the KGB (disbanded during the collapse of the Soviet Union) were in cahoots to elect Trump, during a Oct. 31 interview on MSNBC.
A handful of Democratic lawmakers have outright called for the FBI director to resign or be fired.
“This is not fake news. Intelligence officials are hiding connections to the Russian government. There is no question,” then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said in a Dec. 10 interview on MSNBC. “Comey knew and deliberately kept this info a secret,” he said.
The MSNBC host asked Reid if Comey should resign. “Of course, yes,” Reid replied.
Comey’s decision to publicly reopen the Clinton investigation drove Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) to also demand the FBI director resign.
“I called on FBI Director James Comey to resign his position after his recent communication with members of Congress regarding the bureau’s review of emails potentially related to Hillary Clinton’s personal email server,” Cohen wrote in a Nov. 3 op-ed published in The Hill.
So great was Democratic animus towards Comey that several lawmakers walked out on the FBI director during a closed-door briefing on Russian hacking in the 2016 election, open to all members of the House, according to CBS News.
Two of those Democratic lawmakers blasted Comey to reporters outside the meeting.
“The FBI director has no credibility,” said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), according to CBS.
“My confidence in the FBI director’s ability to lead this agency has been shaken,” said Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.).
Hillary herself still blames Comey for losing the election, despite the fact she didn’t campaign in Wisconsin and Michigan, had poor polling numbers as far back as the summer, and couldn’t inspire younger and Hispanic voters to come out for her in strong numbers — among other faults.
“If the election had been on October 27, I would be your president,” she told a women’s conference moderated by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on May 2. “It wasn’t a perfect campaign, but I was on the way to winning until a combination of Comey’s letter and Russian WikiLeaks. The reason why I believe we lost were the intervening events in the last 10 days.”
When Trump took action to remove him from his position Tuesday, many of the same Democrats, including Schumer, who had blasted Comey or demanded he resign made a swift about-face to criticize Trump.
“Donald Trump should follow his FBI Director out the door #nocredibility,” tweeted Rep. Maxine Waters.
“Heard it here first! Jan.13 on @hardball w/@HardballChris, I said if #Comey was fired, it would be like #SaturdayNightMassacre. Nixonian!” tweeted Rep. Steve Cohen, who had authored the op-ed calling for Comey’s ouster on Nov. 3.