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Former Clinton Campaign Official Calls James Comey's Firing 'Very Suspect'


Hillary Clinton herself said last week that she would have won the election if not for Comey's announcement that he was reopening the email investigation in the last days of the campaign. We want to bring in now Jennifer Palmieri. She was communications director for the 2016 Clinton campaign. Welcome to the program. And first, have you spoken with with Secretary Clinton or others from the campaign about this development? If so, what have they said?

JENNIFER PALMIERI: I haven't spoken with Secretary Clinton. I have spoken with some of my other colleagues. And as you might imagine, it's sort of head-spinning development as it relates to our world and to the campaign. But I think people pretty quickly get to the broader implications and concern about, you know, the sitting president of the United States firing the FBI director that's investigating him.

SIEGEL: What do you make of the White House explanation that this was really about the way Comey handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton?

PALMIERI: It doesn't seem very credible when candidate Trump took a very different view of Comey's actions. And then President Trump as recently, you know, as just a couple of days ago was tweeting that Comey had helped Hillary Clinton and that it was outrageous for him to suggest - for Hillary to suggest otherwise.

So it's very much at odds with where President Trump has been on how Comey handled this before. And so it's - I just find it - it seems quite suspicious and much more likely to be about - to be about Trump's investigation - excuse me, about Comey's investigation of Trump than Comey's investigation of Clinton.

SIEGEL: Let's try - this may be foolish in Washington. Let's try to take this out of the realm of politics for a moment.

PALMIERI: (Laughter) Yes.

SIEGEL: Given the way that James Comey did handle the investigation into Secretary Clinton's emails, would any FBI director merit firing for what he did?

PALMIERI: Well, the president can fire the FBI director for whatever - for any reason. I don't - I think that there is cause to do so in the case of Comey and how he handled the Clinton investigation. So it is not as if the action doesn't have - that there is not cause for firing him. But given where President - given all - how - what the White House said today contradicts the statements that President Trump has said all along about Comey's handling of the Clinton email investigation, it's very suspect.

SIEGEL: On the other hand, as the White House is at pains to show, it echoes complaints that many Democrats made, that the FBI director had no authority to go into great detail as to how perilous Secretary Clinton had been. His job was to say, we're closing our investigation.

PALMIERI: Yes. I mean, I agree with those - with those findings. It's just suspicious that the Trump White House is now adopting that tone while Comey is investigating them. And if you step all the way back and look at this more objectively, the president of the United States has fired the acting attorney general and has fired the FBI director. And we're barely three months into the administration. And that's a pretty chilling fact for the democracy.

SIEGEL: I think you said earlier that I could probably imagine what those conversations were like with other veterans of the Clinton campaign.

PALMIERI: It is - it's surreal. The surreal circus that's the 2016 election continues well into 2017.

SIEGEL: Well, Jennifer Palmieri, thanks for talking with us about it.

PALMIERI: My pleasure.

SIEGEL: Jen (ph) Palmieri was communications director for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, speaking there about today's news, the dismissal of FBI Director James Comey. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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