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FBI Agents Association President Reacts To James Comey's Firing


Just after we learned about James Comey's removal, the president of the FBI Agents Association quickly responded. Tom O'Connor wrote about his appreciation for Director Comey's service, and he wrote that Comey understood the Bureau's mission. He's on the line with us now. And Mr. O'Connor, where were you when you heard this news, and what went through your mind?

THOMAS O'CONNOR: Actually I am partaking in what's called a police unity tour. It's a 320-mile bicycle ride from New Jersey to Washington, D.C., to honor and remember fallen police officers and agents. And actually Director Comey in July was responsible for naming six of our agents who passed away from cancers they received on 9/11 and during their service after 9/11.

And when I talk about him, his leadership and service, he understood what was going on and had those names, those six fallen agents' names signed to the Hall of Honor within the FBI. And now we're putting them on the wall at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. So...

SIEGEL: Was his...

O'CONNOR: That's what I'm doing this week.

SIEGEL: In your view, was his firing legitimate?

O'CONNOR: While I'm not going to get into the politics of the firing, I'd just like to say that the Agents Association - we appreciate Director Comey's services, his leadership and his overwhelming support for the agents of the FBI. I mean as you said, he's someone who understands the centrality of the FBI agent and the Bureau's mission. He recognized that we as FBI agents put our lives on the line every day. And as I said, you know, the reason I'm on this 300-mile bike ride is to remember those agents. You know, he really understood that. And...

SIEGEL: But you know, the memo by the assistant attorney general - the deputy attorney general, rather, Rod Rosenstein, pretty well says he didn't understand the limits of the role of the FBI director, that he went far afield of those when he spoke about the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails and when he went beyond just saying, we're closing our investigation; it's up to the prosecutors now. Do you think that perhaps he might have gone off the rails on that case?

O'CONNOR: Well, much like Director Comey, I'm going to stay apolitical and not comment on the the attorney general - the deputy attorney general's memo. I'm here today to just say that, you know, we believed in Director Comey's leadership and that the membership has has told me that over and over and that we believe that Director Comey and the FBI will continue to work towards upholding the law and the Constitution and that we will perform that duty today, tomorrow and in the future.

SIEGEL: Mr. O'Connor, thanks for talking with us about it.

O'CONNOR: Thank you very much, and have a great night.

SIEGEL: That's Tom O'Connor, who's president of the FBI Agents Association, talking about the news, which is the firing of James Comey as FBI director by President Trump. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.