Trump: 'I was a little bit surprised' over backlash against Comey's firing

President Donald Trump had not expected such a strong reaction over his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, he told Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro in an interview that aired Saturday.

“I guess I was a little bit surprised, because all of the Democrats, I mean, they hated Jim Comey,” Trump said.

“They didn’t like him, they wanted him fired, or whatever, and then all of a sudden they come up with all these glowing reports. You know, look, it’s politics.”

Trump went on to slam Democrats as “hypocrites” due to their previous condemnations of Comey and his handling of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

“It’s beyond being a hypocrite. You have these tremendous — the level of hatred toward him, especially during that period of time with Hillary Clinton where he gave her a free ride,” Trump said.

Trump’s comments appear to confirm multiple reports that his administration had been shocked at the widespread outrage over Comey’s firing. Officials had assumed the move would be a “win-win” and would not cause a “political explosion,” as both Republicans and Democrats have publicly criticised Comey, according to reports from Politico and CNN’s Dana Bash.

But even those who had been critical of Comey expressed suspicion over the timing of Comey’s firing. They have argued that the White House’s explanation — that Comey was terminated due to his handling over the Clinton investigation — meant Trump could have fired him months ago.

Trump addressed questions over the timing in his interview with Pirro, arguing that there was “no right time” to fire Comey.

“Let’s say I did it on Jan. 20 … that would have been the big story as opposed to the inauguration. I was thinking about it then,” Trump said.

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