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First Read’s Morning Clips: Comey Says Goodbye

TRUMP AGENDA: Comey says goodbye

In a goodbye letter to colleagues, James Comey said: “I'm not going to spend time on the decision or the way it was executed. I hope you won't either. It is done, and I will be fine, although I will miss you and the mission deeply.”

The Washington Post, with its Comey postmortem: “[T]he private accounts of more than 30 officials at the White House, the Justice Department, the FBI and on Capitol Hill, as well as Trump confidants and other senior Republicans, paint a conflicting narrative centered on the president’s brewing personal animus toward Comey. Many of those interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to candidly discuss internal deliberations. Trump was angry that Comey would not support his baseless claim that President Barack Obama had his campaign offices wiretapped. Trump was frustrated when Comey revealed in Senate testimony the breadth of the counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s effort to sway the 2016 U.S. presidential election. And he fumed that Comey was giving too much attention to the Russia probe and not enough to investigating leaks to journalists.… Trump’s team did not have a full-fledged communications strategy for how to announce and then explain the decision. As Trump, who had retired to the residence to eat dinner, sat in front of a television watching cable news coverage of Comey’s firing, he noticed another flaw: Nobody was defending him. The president was irate, according to White House officials. Trump pinned much of the blame on Spicer and Dubke’s communications operation, wondering how there could be so many press staffers yet such negative coverage on cable news — although he, Priebus and others had afforded them almost no time to prepare.”

And from the New York Times: “After President Trump accused his predecessor in March of wiretapping him, James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, was flabbergasted. The president, Mr. Comey told associates, was “outside the realm of normal,” even “crazy.” For his part, Mr. Trump fumed when Mr. Comey publicly dismissed the sensational wiretapping claim. In the weeks that followed, he grew angrier and began talking about firing Mr. Comey. After stewing last weekend while watching Sunday talk shows at his New Jersey golf resort, Mr. Trump decided it was time. There was “something wrong with” Mr. Comey, he told aides.”

FBI agent groups dispute the idea that Comey had lost the confidence of rank and file at the FBI, POLITICO reports.

The New York Times, on the sense of crisis growing in Washington and in the intelligence community: “Stunned by the sudden loss of their leader, agents at the F.B.I. struggled throughout the day to absorb the meaning of Mr. Comey’s dismissal, which the White House announced Tuesday evening. Veteran agents and other F.B.I. employees described a dark mood throughout the bureau, where morale was already low from months of being pummeled over dueling investigations surrounding the 2016 presidential election. Mr. Trump is weighing going to the F.B.I. headquarters in Washington on Friday as a show of his commitment to the bureau, an official said, though he is not expected to discuss the Russia investigation.”

Trump sat for interviews with Time and The Economist.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed Michael Flynn for documents related to its Russia probe.

Did Attorney General Sessions violate his recusal by advising in the firing of James Comey? Our legal team takes a look.

POLITICO notes that Sessions is emerging as Trump’s most valuable ally.

The New York Times editorial board writes an open letter to Rosenstein: “You have one choice: Appoint a special counsel who is independent of both the department and the White House. No one else would have the standing to assure the public it is getting the truth. While a handful of Republican senators and representatives expressed concern at Mr. Comey’s firing, there is as yet no sign that the congressional investigations into Russian interference will be properly staffed or competently run. And Americans can have little faith that the Justice Department, or an F.B.I. run by Mr. Trump’s handpicked replacement, will get to the bottom of whether and how Russia helped steal the presidency for Mr. Trump.”

Dana Shell Smith, ambassador to the Arab Gulf emirate of Qatar, said Wednesday that it’s “increasingly difficult to wake up overseas to news from home, knowing I will spend today explaining our democracy and institutions.”

Betsy DeVos was met with protests during a commencement speech at Bethune-Cookman University.

The big picture for Congress, via the New York Times: “Comey’s Firing May Imperil Republicans’ Legislative Agenda.”

OFF TO THE RACES: Ossoff reserves nearly $7 million for ads

GA-06: Yet more money is pouring onto the airwaves. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Democrat Jon Ossoff reserved more than $6.6 million in airtime for cable, TV and radio ads through the June 20 runoff, ensuring he’ll be hard to avoid in the final five weeks of his bid for an upset victory in Georgia’s 6th District.”

There’s yet another GOP video linking Ossoff to Nancy Pelosi.

Karen Handel says that Comey’s firing was “probably overdue.”

MT-AL: Vice President Mike Pence will be the first sitting vice president to visit Billings, Montana, in 10 years when he comes to stump for Greg Giantforte.

NJ-GOV: Republican candidate Kim Guadagno says Chris Christie “would make a good FBI director.”

SC-05: Nikki Haley donated $100 to GOP runoff candidate Ralph Norman.

VA-GOV: From the Richmond Times-Dispatch: Ed Gillespie would rather not talk about James Comey.