Two years of high-profile political investigations appear to have taken a toll on FBI officials’ perception of former FBI Director Jim Comey, according to surveys released by the bureau on Wednesday.
Comey, who was unceremoniously fired by President Trump on May 9, saw his performance ratings slide across the board over the past two years on questions regarding his integrity, problem solving skills, judgement, and interpersonal ability, according to the survey.
The survey fielded responses from around 50 FBI officials who worked under Comey. The report released on Wednesday includes figures for the past three years.
Polled on a scale of 1 to 5, Comey’s average scores all still fall into the “success” category, the highest in the survey. But, his average scores have clearly fallen since 2015.
In the category of flexibility and adaptability, Comey’s underlings gave him average scores of 4.81, 4.57 and 4.29 in 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively.
In terms of problem solving and judgement, Comey’s numbers fell over that time period from 4.82 to 4.45. Interpersonal ability went from 4.83 to 4.38 in that two-year window, and on presence and integrity, he fell from 4.82 to 4.42.
The declines occurred amid Comey’s handling of investigations of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s campaign.
Comey, who was nominated and confirmed as FBI director in 2013, came under heavy external criticism in the Clinton investigation from both Republicans and Democrats.
Some Republicans were upset at Comey’s July 5, 2016, announcement that he would not be recommending charges against Clinton for mishandling classified information. But equally perturbing to Democrats were Comey’s comments criticizing Clinton for using a private email server to handle classified information. He called the decision “extremely careless.”
Comey angered Democrats further when he re-opened the email probe in late-October, just before the election. The former FBI director claimed he had to re-open the investigation after emails were recovered on a computer shared by Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her husband, Anthony Weiner.
Amid the politically charged FBI investigation, news stories appeared regarding FBI infighting and disagreements between the bureau and Justice Department.
Some FBI field officers reportedly believed that FBI and DOJ brass were going easy on Clinton. Other stories surfaced about growing criticism of Comey within the bureau.
Comey drew ire from Republicans since Trump’s inauguration as the investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government picked up steam.
After Trump fired Comey, he said it was because of the Russia investigation. As part of a public relations campaign to spin the firing, Trump and the White House claimed that FBI morale had fallen under Comey’s leadership.
That claim angered Comey, which he expressed when he testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in June. He also acknowledged that the White House’s comments compelled him to release memos he wrote following conversations with Trump.
In one memo, Comey claimed that Trump asked him to back off of an investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Comey has also claimed that Trump asked him for loyalty, but that he refused to give it.