FBI Director James Comey

All the Director's Employees: Data Show the White House Lied about Support for Jim Comey

By Susan Hennessey, Benjamin Wittes
Friday, August 18, 2017, 2:30 PM

On our Foreign Policy feed, we explain how newly released employee survey data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation disproves the president's claim that former FBI Director James Comey had lost the confidence of the rank-and-file. The article begins: 

Following the firing of FBI Director James Comey, the White House claimed that it wasn’t only the president who had lost confidence in Comey but the rank and file of the FBI as well.

Whether this attack on Comey was accurate or not matters for reasons that are broader than defending Comey’s legacy. President Donald Trump and his staff put this claim forward as a primary reason for and defense of his firing of Comey — despite other statements that indicated that the firing had more to do with his anger about the Russia investigation. Evidence undercutting the notion of staffwide dissatisfaction would not merely implicate Trump in a smear of Comey; it would further suggest that this talking point was a pretext intended to cover up some other motive.

In June, one of us set out to determine whether any data existed to support or refute the White House’s claims. Ben posited that FBI email correspondence to staff following Comey’s firing, as well as employee satisfaction survey data, would reveal whether there was any basis for the White House’s claims. So he submitted a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for the data.

Apparently others were thinking along the same lines. Some of that employee survey data has now been released, and, lo and behold, it suggests overwhelming support among the rank and file for former Director Comey. The release came in response to a New York Times FOIA request, and we are still waiting for a response to Ben’s broader inquiry, which should shed further light on the subject.

But based on this release alone, we can say pretty definitively: The White House was lying.