In his interview with NBC Nightly News' Lester Holt, President Trump said Comey's decision not to charge Hillary Clinton 'disgraceful'

By Karen Mizoguchi
May 12, 2017 08:44 PM

President Donald Trump admitted the FBI’s probe of then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s private email server helped him during the 2016 election, and added that he never would have let his opponent walk free.

“[James Comey] had a lot of pressure put on and he exonerated her,” Trump said Friday in his interview with NBC Nightly NewsLester Holt. “Should have never exonerated her.”

Comey, who was the former public face of the FBI, was previously applauded by Trump for his handling of the investigation into Clinton’s private email server. In July, Comey said in a press conference that he would not recommend criminal charges against Clinton.

“What Comey did, [he] had good moments for me as a candidate,” Trump said. “I happen to have some lawyers that were unrelated lawyers and they were saying ‘wow, [Clinton’s] guilty here, guilty, guilty, guilty.’ Then [Comey] gets to the end and he said she’s free as a bird.”

Credit: Gene J. Puskar/AP; Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In October, Comey shocked Washington when he announced that the FBI had reopened its investigation of Clinton’s server. Then, two days before Election Day in November, the FBI declared it ultimately found no new evidence against Clinton.

On Tuesday, the White House announced Comey was fired as Trump’s decision came at the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who laid out the case for axing Comey in a memo that detailed his mishandling of the investigation into Clinton’s private email server.

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Trump released his own statement about Comey’s firing: “You are hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately,” Trump wrote to Comey in a letter released by the White House. “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau.”

Comey had been leading the federal counterintelligence investigation into whether advisers to the President had sought to collude with Russian officials in their efforts to swing the 2016 election.