donald trump james comey has guts grand rapids sot_00001916.jpg
Donald Trump: James Comey has guts
00:40 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Before the election, Donald Trump said Comey had "guts" for his actions regarding Hillary Clinton

Now the President has fired the FBI director for them

CNN  — 

Eight days before Donald Trump won the presidency, he singled out FBI director James Comey for a special round of praise during a speech to supporters in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“It took guts for director Comey to make the move that he made,” Trump said of the FBI chief’s decision to make public the bureau’s revived probe into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. “It took a lot of guts.”

donald trump james comey has guts grand rapids sot_00001916.jpg
Donald Trump: James Comey has guts
00:40 - Source: CNN

But on Tuesday night, with the FBI now investigating the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia, the White House, acting on advice from the Justice Department, fired Comey.

Their stated reason?

His handling of the Clinton email case.

“The way the director handled the conclusion of the email investigation was wrong,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote in a letter explaining his reasoning.

He added, without irony, that Comey had been wrong to use his July press conference, in which he publicly cleared Clinton, to “release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation,” a reference to Comey’s broadly critical remarks about Clinton’s behavior.

While Trump railed against the initial announcement, he openly celebrated the FBI director’s letter to Congress, delivered on October 28 – when early voting had already begun in some states – that his investigators were examining newly discovered emails that “appear to be pertinent” to the server probe.

Related: Clinton says she’d be president if election had been held October 27

In the end, there was nothing newly pertinent to the probe. But in the meantime, Trump crowed.

“I really disagreed with him (in July), I was not his fan,” he said in Michigan on Halloween. “But I’ll tell you what – what he did, he brought back his reputation. He brought it back. He’s got to hang tough because a lot of people want him to do the wrong thing.

“But what he did,” Trump continued, “was the right thing.”

Then last week, after Comey’s most recent testimony, Trump tweeted the FBI director was the “best thing” that could have happened to Clinton because he “gave her a free pass for many bad deeds!”

Democrats, too, have changed their tune in the aftermath of Comey’s shock firing. In particular, top Clinton campaign staffers, many of whom – along with the candidate herself – believe his “October surprise” helped deliver Trump the White House.

“I was as frustrated, concerned and disappointed as anyone with Director Comey’s handling of the email investigation,” former Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said in a statement. “But President Trump just fired the man investigating how Russia meddled in our election and whether members of his campaign were involved, an investigation President Trump called ‘charade’ only 24 hours ago.”