Former FBI Special Agent Clint Watts On Comey Firing: “When Trump Doesn't Get His Way, He Either Smears You Or Fires You”

Watts: White House Was “Trying To Push For A Leak Investigation Of Which There Was No Evidence … Over A Russia Investigation, Which There's Tremendous Amounts Of Evidence For”

From the May 10 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:

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WILLIE GEIST (CO-HOST): Clint Watts, let's just get your reaction, first of all, to the firing of [former FBI Director] Jim Comey, the way it was done, and the timing of when it was done. 

CLINT WATTS: Well, for a guy who likes to claim how classy he is, President Trump really did it in a low-class way yesterday. He delivers a letter. He doesn't even really apparently seem to know where Comey's at. Comey finds out while he's conducting FBI business through a television broadcast that's on behind him, which is a blatant embarrassment to the FBI director. The FBI should -- is probably on pins and needles today trying to understand why this was conducted that way. How do you remain balanced? How do you proceed in investigations? And the key point in all of this is in the Russia investigation, if you're going to move charges forward, if you find anything, you have to take those to the Department of Justice. It will be U.S. attorneys running the grand jury. It will be appointees of the Trump administration that will then look at whether this should move forward. And how can you say that they're independent and balanced today after you just fired Comey for essentially something that came up last summer that you once applauded. It's an embarrassment, really, in terms of how our government is conducted, and it's what we see in third world countries, not America.


DAVID IGNATIUS: I just would note one ominous thing, and I'd ask Clint for his judgment on this. In Trump's letter dismissing Comey, he makes reference to three separate occasions in which Comey had said to him that he was not under investigation. Clint, is he setting the table there for being able to say to the next director, there's no investigation of the president, so don't even think about that? How did you read that? 

WATTS: I read it exactly as that way, that it's a passive push, that there's nothing there. Whenever we bring in the new director, essentially, we don't even need to waste time on this investigation. And this is a repeated pattern of Trump, which is to try and pressure the FBI director to do what he wants. And then when the FBI director doesn't do that, when Comey doesn't do that, he's either maligned publicly through tweets or now he's fired. And when you look at this, they were trying to push for a leak investigation of which there was no evidence. They wanted Comey to focus on that over a Russia investigation, which there's tremendous amounts of evidence for. So it's a really perilous situation we're in here in our country right now where the FBI -- Comey said he did these press conferences last summer because he didn't know if the DOJ could be impartial. Now Trump applauds him in October and then fires him for it now many months later. So it doesn't add up. It doesn't make sense. And basically when Trump doesn't get his way, he either smears you or fires you. 


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