Emails and comments from FBI employees show the bureau was largely surprised by the firing of former Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyComey tweets: 'We always emerge stronger from hard times' Trump to declassify controversial text messages, documents related to Russia probe Lisa Page bombshell: FBI couldn’t prove Trump-Russia collusion before Mueller appointment MORE, contradicting the White House’s argument that agents had “lost confidence” in Comey, the Lawfare blog reported Monday.

Nora Ellingsen, a Lawfare reporter who worked for several years at the FBI, spoke with nearly 20 of her colleagues about Comey’s time at the bureau. She characterized most of them as having a positive opinion of the former director.


Lawfare also obtained emails from FBI agents and leaders sent in the immediate aftermath of Comey’s firing last May. One agent said he hoped it was “an instance of fake news.” 

Another said the news was “unexpected and hard to understand.”

Lawfare also recently obtained more than 100 pages of documents through a Freedom of Information Act request detailing reactions to Comey's ouster. Many said his firing caused shock and sadness.

The Lawfare report included the bylines of five writers, including Ellingsen and editor-in-chief Ben Wittes, a self-described good friend of Comey's. 

The reactions highlighted by Lawfare contradict the White House’s explanation for Trump’s decision to fire Comey last year. 

Then-deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that Trump and the “rank and file” at the FBI had lost confidence in Comey. 

In a meeting the day after he fired Comey, Trump reportedly called the former FBI chief a “nut job” and said firing him relieved pressure.