President Trump suggested Friday that he and his supporters should be “given our stolen time back” in light of a Justice Department report that found former FBI director James B. Comey violated FBI policies regarding memos that helped spark the special counsel investigation.
It was not immediately clear what Trump meant, but in May he shared a tweet by a supporter that said he should have two years added to his term as compensation for having endured the investigation of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into possible coordination between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
“The disastrous IG Report on James Comey shows, in the strongest of terms, how unfairly I, and tens of millions of great people who support me, were treated,” Trump said in a tweet, referring to the Justice Department’s inspector general. “Our rights and liberties were illegally stripped away by this dishonest fool. We should be given our stolen time back?”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment on what the president meant.
The report released Thursday by the Justice Department’s internal watchdog said Comey violated FBI policies in how he handled memos that detailed his early interactions with Trump. The report said Comey kept the government documents at his home, engineered the release of some of their contents to the news media and did not tell the bureau which person or people he had given them to.
Comey’s orchestration of the release of the memo’s contents was a factor in Mueller’s appointment as special counsel. Mueller would go on to focus intently on the episodes Comey described in his memos as possible obstruction of justice by the president. The memos asserted, among other things, that Trump had pressed Comey for loyalty and had asked him about letting go of an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Comey, whom Trump fired in May 2017, told investigators that he felt the memos were personal and that he was acting in the best interests of the country.
The inspector general wrote that his office gave its findings to the Justice Department to determine whether Comey had committed a crime and that officials declined to prosecute the case.
In a separate tweet Friday, Trump wrote that the decision not to prosecute showed “how fair and reasonable” Attorney General William P. Barr is. “So many people and experts that I have watched and read would have taken an entirely different course,” Trump wrote. “Comey got Lucky!
In May, conservative religious leader Jerry Falwell Jr. wrote on Twitter that Trump should have two years added to his first term “as pay back for time stolen by this corrupt failed coup,” a reference to the Mueller investigation.
Trump retweeted Falwell and in subsequent tweets of his own wrote that “they have stolen two years of my (our) Presidency.”
Trump has also publicly mused — seemingly in a joking fashion — about extending his four-year term. Earlier this year, he brought up the idea after receiving an award at an event for the Wounded Warrior Project.
“Well, this is really beautiful,” Trump said. “This will find a permanent place, at least for six years, in the Oval Office. Is that okay?”
“I was going to joke, general, and say at least for 10 or 14 years, but we would cause bedlam if I said that, so we’ll say six,” he added.
Later Friday, Trump tweeted several clips of Republican allies speaking out in television interviews about Comey.
Two of Trump’s closest allies in Congress — Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) — also called for a hearing on the inspector general’s report.
“Because Comey’s compilation and dissemination of sensitive FBI information led directly to two-plus years of political turmoil and vitriolic partisan attacks on the President, the OIG’s report demands congressional attention,” the two lawmakers wrote in a letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.).
Jordan is the top Republican on the committee, and Meadows is the top Republican on the panel’s subcommittee on government operations.
Mueller’s report did not establish that anyone on the Trump campaign illegally coordinated with Russia. It did not draw any legal conclusions about whether Trump tried to obstruct the probe. Mueller said the report did not exonerate the president..
Matt Zapotosky contributed to this report.