Sam Nunberg, a former political adviser who helped Trump launch his campaign, pointed to the letter the president sent notifying Comey of his termination. In the letter, Trump said Comey had privately informed him “on three separate occasions” that he was not under investigation—a bizarre, and seemingly counterproductive, claim that only served to direct attention to the Russia controversy. Then,Trump sent his longtime personal bodyguard Keith Schiller to hand deliver the letter to FBI headquarters in Washington—knowing full well that the director was in California at the time.
Trump’s opponents were appalled by how the process played out, and likened it to a coup—but Nunberg was delighted. “I do love this letter … That is so Donald Trump,” he said. “I said, this was pretty cool that Keith delivered that letter to Comey, almost as cool as when he body slammed Vince McMahon in Trump Tower.”
Nunberg speculated that a key factor had been Comey's perceived unwillingness to look into damaging leaks about the president. “I’ve heard not from the White House. I’ve heard from two chiefs of staff in the Senate that they felt that every time you would ask Comey about something, about a leak or the unmasking, he would drag his feet, but suddenly he’s ready to summarily announce in the opening of the Trump administration, ‘I’m investigating the Trump campaign and Russia,’” Nunberg said.
Roger Stone, another longtime Trump confidant and a Nixonian dirty trickster, joined in the gleeful troll-fest. Reached by text message on Tuesday night, Stone said “What Comey did to Hillary was disgraceful. I'm glad Trump fired him over it.”
One source close to the White House said Stone had been pushing Trump to fire Comey. Trump disputed the idea that Stone had convinced him to fire Comey, tweeting, "Have not spoken to Roger in a long time - had nothing to do with my decision." A senior White House official said Stone had not influenced Trump's decision on Comey. Stone later claimed on Twitter that he had not been the source for stories pointing to him as one of the key figures pushing Trump on the Comey decision. But Stone, who is himself a subject of scrutiny in the FBI’s investigation, has made his views on Comey publicly and abundantly clear.
Not all of Trump’s allies were as elated by the president’s brazenly combative approach to Comey situation. Given the suddenness of the firing, the lack of a follow-up plan, and the timing of the move, some in the president’s orbit were left speculating about his motives and worrying about his future.
"I think he’s worried about [Mike] Flynn," said one source close to the White House, referring to Trump’s former National Security Adviser who has offered to testify before Congress.* "[Trump] has questioned whether or not he should have fired Flynn. They don’t know what Flynn's going to say."
Another source close to the White House worried, "There is a real risk here things will spin out of control."
* This article originally stated that Michael Flynn was scheduled to testify before Congress. We regret the error.