President Donald Trump has offered additional insight into his thinking about former FBI Director James Comey. Trump said in excerpts of an NBC News interview released Friday that Comey “should have never exonerated” Hillary Clinton. Trump, referring to the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state, said that the steady flow of news surrounding that probe helped him as a candidate in the 2016 presidential election.
“I will tell you that what he did, what Comey did, had good moments for me as a candidate. I’m only talking as a candidate, I’m not saying as president,” Trump told NBC News’ Lester Holt, beginning to recount a July 2016 press conference in which Comey announced the FBI would not recommend charges against Clinton in the case.
“When he came out with that scathing set of circumstances, the server … the emails, 33,000 emails … Then he gets to the end and he said she’s free as a bird,” Trump said.
Trump fired Comey from the FBI on Tuesday, an action that stunned both Republicans and Democrats, and caught agents at the bureau by surprise because the agency is deep into an investigation to find potentially improper links between Trump associates and Russian operatives.
The president’s original dismissal letter to Comey indicated that he was being fired for his handling of the Clinton email probe. On the campaign trail, Trump often declared that Clinton should have been prosecuted — despite the FBI’s findings that no charges were warranted.
Trump reiterated his displeasure with Comey on NBC News: “He had a lot of pressure put on and he exonerated her. Should have never exonerated her.”