President Donald Trump had not expected such a strong reaction over his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, he toldFox News' Jeanine Pirro in an interview that aired Saturday.
"I guess I was a little bit surprised, because all of the Democrats, I mean, they hated Jim Comey," Trump said.
"They didn't like him, they wanted him fired, or whatever, and then all of a sudden they come up with all these glowing reports. You know, look, it's politics."
Click through reaction to Trump's firing of James Comey:
Reaction to Trump's firing of James Comey
Reaction to Trump's firing of James Comey
But does anyone seriously believe @realDonaldTrump fired the top person investigating his ties to Russia because he was unfair to Hillary?
Trump firing Comey shows how frightened the Admin is over Russia investigation
Gov. John Kasich statement on James Comey https://t.co/Wrwj6sGqnz
Removal of Director Comey only confirms need for select cmte to investigate #Russia's interference in 2016 election https://t.co/LfKlwSw6iQ
EVERYONE who cares about independence & rule of law in America should be "troubled by the timing and reasoning" of… https://t.co/NZY4qh3uiz
This is Nixonian. Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein must immediately appoint a special prosecutor to continue the Trump/Russia investigation.
Firing of Comey tainted by extraordinary conflict of interest. Independent prosecutor must be appointed to restore… https://t.co/lXBIJtTf18
First Pres Trump fired Sally Yates, then Preet Bharara. Now #Comey. Doesn't seem like an accident. We must have a special prosecutor.
If we don't get a special prosecutor, every American will rightfully suspect that the decision to fire #Comey was part of a cover-up.
We are in a full-fledged constitutional crisis.
Comey's fired, which means Trump must be one of the few people in DC that the FBI doesn't have something on.
My statement on James Comey https://t.co/NWBR8FGTCf
Elijah Cummings is calling for "immediate emergency hearings". https://t.co/iMsNmdPmHi
LEAHY: "This is nothing less than Nixonian." https://t.co/n4R4fWSgib
Sen. John McCain on Comey firing: "I regret that that took place. The president does have that authority, so I resp… https://t.co/pSEu3XXsj5
Statement on FBI Director Comey ➡ https://t.co/vB822Nw5OR
This should not be sugar coated. Firing Comey is up there in terms of the scariest things Trump has done.
I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination.
My staff and I are reviewing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia. The second paragraph of… https://t.co/qcm1PiFkNG
Ds were against Comey before they were for him.
U.S. Senator Susan Collins’ Statement on Director Comey
Firing Comey has the foul stench of an attempt to stop an ongoing investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.
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Trump went on to slam Democrats as "hypocrites" due to their previous condemnations of Comey and his handling of the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server.
"It's beyond being a hypocrite. You have these tremendous — the level of hatred toward him, especially during that period of time with Hillary Clinton where he gave her a free ride," Trump said.
Trump's comments appear to confirm multiple reports that his administration had been shocked at the widespread outrage over Comey's firing. Officials had assumed the move would be a "win-win" and would not cause a "political explosion," as both Republicans and Democrats have publicly criticized Comey, according to reports from Politico and CNN's Dana Bash.
But even those who had been critical of Comey expressed suspicion over the timing of Comey's firing. They have argued that the White House's explanation — that Comey was terminated due to his handling over the Clinton investigation — meant Trump could have fired him months ago.
Trump addressed questions over the timing in his interview with Pirro, arguing that there was "no right time" to fire Comey.
"Let's say I did it on Jan. 20 ... that would have been the big story as opposed to the inauguration. I was thinking about it then," Trump said.