President Donald Trump, in response to reports that the FBI began an investigation of him last year to find out whether he had a clandestine agenda to help Russia, said Saturday that former FBI director James Comey and other "losers" at the bureau "tried to do a number on your President."
He called Comey a "total sleaze" and "crooked cop." The president also took swipes at special counsel Robert Mueller and the New York Times, which broke the story Friday night. "My firing of James Comey was a great day for America," he tweeted.
Comey responded Saturday morning in a tweet that quoted President Franklin D. Roosevelt: "I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made."
The newspaper said the decision to investigate Trump himself was an aggressive move by FBI officials confronting the chaotic aftermath of the firing of Comey and enduring the president’s verbal assaults on the Russia investigation as a “witch hunt.”
CNN reported that counterintelligence agents were investigating why Trump was acting in ways that seemed to benefit Russia.
Both news organizations said Trump's firing of Comey was a major factor prompting the FBI to take action.
Although the report was published Friday night and prompted a sharp response from White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, Trump did not weigh in until 7:05 a.m Saturday.
"Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!
In a series of tweets, he said the FBI was in "complete turmoil" at the time because of Comey's "poor leadership" and his handling of an investigation of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
"My firing of James Comey was a great day for America," Trump tweeted. "He was a Crooked Cop...........who is being totally protected by his best friend, Bob Mueller, & the 13 Angry Democrats..."
He singled out several FBI agents in his five-part tweetstorm.
"Lyin’ James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter S and his lover, agent Lisa Page, & more, all disgraced and/or fired and caught in the act. These are just some of the losers that tried to do a number on your President," he tweeted. "Part of the Witch Hunt. Remember the 'insurance policy?' This is it!"
Trump was referring to charges that some FBI agents, among them McCabe, Peter Strzok and Page, a colleague he was intimately involved with, were part of a conspiracy to undermine the president.
Addressing the Russia aspect of the Times report, Trump said he had been "FAR tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush or Clinton. Maybe tougher than any other President."
Lyin’ James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter S and his lover, agent Lisa Page, & more, all disgraced and/or fired and caught in the act. These are just some of the losers that tried to do a number on your President. Part of the Witch Hunt. Remember the “insurance policy?” This is it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2019
He repeated his long held contention that "getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing."
Sanders said in her statement Friday night that Comey was fired for just cause and that Trump has never favored Russia.
“This is absurd. James Comey was fired because he’s a disgraced partisan hack, and his Deputy Andrew McCabe, who was in charge at the time, is a known liar fired by the FBI. Unlike President Obama, who let Russia and other foreign adversaries push America around, President Trump has actually been tough on Russia.”
The obstruction probe was an idea the FBI had previously considered, but it didn't start until Comey was fired, CNN reported. The justification went beyond Trump's firing of Comey, CNN said, according to its sources, and included the president's conversation with Comey in the Oval Office asking him to drop the investigation into his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Trump insisted last year that he didn't fire FBI Director James Comey because of the Russia investigation, despite video and documentary evidence to the contrary, including a key interview with NBC News.
“I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it,” he told NBC anchor Lester Holt. “And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself — I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”
"Not that it matters but I never fired James Comey because of Russia!" Trump tweeted shortly after the firing. "The Corrupt Mainstream Media loves to keep pushing that narrative, but they know it is not true!"
The FBI director's firing is central to an obstruction of justice investigation being conducted by Mueller, who is also looking into Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election in order to help Trump.
Video: Comey - Someone Has To Stand Up, Speak The Truth
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump blasts Comey as 'total sleaze' in response to FBI probe reports