Here's What Hillary Clinton Thought About James Comey's Firing

"I am less surprised than I am worried," she said of President Donald Trump's decision.

A new profile of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton published Friday reveals her initial reaction to President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey earlier this month.

The profile, written by New York Magazine’s Rebecca Traister, contains the first major interview the 2016 Democratic nominee has given since her narrow loss to Trump in November.

“I am less surprised than I am worried,” Clinton said of Comey’s firing. “Not that he shouldn’t have been disciplined. And certainly the Trump campaign relished everything that was done to me in July and then particularly in October.”

“Having said that, I think what’s going on now is an effort to derail and bury the Russia inquiry, and I think that’s terrible for our country,” she added.

She also said she hopes “this abrupt and distressing action will raise enough questions in the minds of Republicans for them to conclude that it is worthy of careful attention, because left unchecked … this will not just bite Democrats, or me; this will undermine our electoral system.”

Traister interviewed Clinton just one day after Trump fired Comey. Since then, multiple revelations have emerged during the FBI’s ongoing investigation into whether Trump associates actively colluded with Russian officials to sway the outcome of the election, including that Trump allegedly asked Comey to end the probe.

Clinton referenced those revelations during a commencement speech she gave at her alma mater, Wellesley College, on Friday. During her remarks, she spoke about the mood on campus when Richard Nixon was elected president, in an apparent jab at Trump. 

“We were furious about the past presidential election of a man whose presidency would eventually end in disgrace with his impeachment for obstruction of justice, after firing the person running the investigation into him at the Department of Justice,” she said.

While many of her former staffers had a lot to say about Comey’s firing, Clinton herself has largely stayed out of the ensuing debate.    

Under Comey’s leadership, the FBI investigated Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure at the State Department. In July, Comey announced he would not recommend charges against Clinton. But in October, less than two weeks before the election, Comey sent a letter informing Congress that the bureau was considering reopening its investigation after finding additional emails.

The FBI was eventually able to review those emails before the election and found that they didn’t change Comey’s previous recommendation against charges. However, many, including Clinton herself, felt Comey’s letter was partially to blame for her narrow loss to Trump. 

In a memo explaining why he recommended terminating Comey, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the handling of Clinton’s emails had caused “substantial damage” to the FBI’s reputation and credibility.

“I cannot defend the Director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken,” Rosenstein wrote. “Almost everyone agrees that the Director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.”

However, Trump later told NBC’s Lester Holt that the decision to fire Comey was his own, and that he considered “this Russia thing” while assessing Comey’s future at the Justice Department.

Comey addressed his handling of the Clinton investigation during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on May 3.

“It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election, but honestly, it wouldn’t change the decision,” he testified. 

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