Trump’s decision comes a little more than two months after the president said he had not decided whether to fire Comey, who is serving a 10-year term that runs through 2023. Here is a brief reminder of Trump’s comments about Comey and the FBI leading up to now.
July 2016: Proof of a “rigged system”
After Comey held a news briefing before the election at which he said he would not recommend that Hillary Clinton be prosecuted over her use of a private email server while secretary of state, Trump called this more evidence of the system being rigged. (Comey also sharply criticized Clinton in his statement.)
“We have a rigged system, folks,” Trump said during a North Carolina rally. His campaign also released a statement from Trump saying something similar, while Trump also tweeted this message:
October 2016: “I think something happened.”
In late October, during an interview with ABC News, Trump suggested that Comey was corrupt, saying the FBI director “made a mistake” and then adding: “I don’t even call it a mistake. I think something happened. Look, something happened.”
Also October 2016: Actually, Comey has “guts”
In late October, Comey sent a letter to Congress telling them that the bureau would examine newly discovered emails it believed could have been related to the Clinton probe. This letter, which sent shockwaves through the presidential election, prompted an abrupt about-face from Trump, who praised the FBI director he had previously questioned.
“It took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made in light of the kind of opposition he had where they’re trying to protect her from criminal prosecution,” Trump said during a campaign event. He added: “He’s gotta hang tough, because a lot of people want him to do the wrong thing. What he did was the right thing.”
Specifically discussing Comey, Trump also said that he “really disagreed with him” after the July announcement, but that he had changed his mind.
“I was not his fan, but I’ll tell you what: What he did, he brought back his reputation,” Trump said. “He brought it back.”
November 2016, before the election: “The FBI knows” Clinton is guilty
Comey announced two days before the election that the bureau’s review of the emails did not change its decision not to recommend charges against Clinton. (After the election, Clinton blamed her unexpected defeat on Comey’s letters.) The next day, Trump was back to claiming the system was “rigged” because the bureau had finished examining the emails so quickly.
Trump also suggested, again, that the FBI investigation was corrupt, saying: “They went through 650,000 emails in eight days — yeah right. So sad what’s going on.” (Days earlier, Trump said he “always had a lot of confidence in the FBI.”) Trump claimed that it was not possible to “review 650,000 e-mails in eight days. You can’t do it, folks.” He also called Clinton “guilty” and said “the FBI knows it.”
November 2016, after the election: “I respect him a lot”
Trump, in an interview with “60 Minutes,” changed his tune again, this time saying that he wanted to meet with Comey to hear him out.
“I’d want to see, you know, he may have had very good reasons for doing what he did,” Trump said at one point. He also said: “I would certainly like to talk to him. And see him. This is a tough time for him.”
Trump said at the time that he had not decided whether to keep Comey as director.
“I haven’t made up my mind,” he said “I respect him a lot. I respect the FBI a lot.”
January 2017, after his inauguration: “He’s become more famous than me”
On Sunday, during a White House reception honoring law enforcement officers and first responders, Trump and Comey met face to face before a crowd, as cameras captured the moment.
Trump saw Comey across the room and waved him over, remarking: “He’s become more famous than me.”
The two men then shook hands and Comey, who is significantly taller than the president, leaned in toward Trump, who patted him on the back a few times.