Within the Justice Department and the FBI, the firing of James Comey has left raw anger, and some fear, according to multiple officials.

Thomas O'Connor, the president of the FBI Agents Association, called Comey's firing "a gut punch. We didn't see it coming, and we don't think Director Comey did anything that would lead to this".

Many employees said they were furious about the firing, saying the circumstances of his dismissal did more damage to the FBI's independence than anything Comey did in his three-plus years in the job.

One intelligence official who works on Russian espionage matters said they were more determined than ever to pursue such cases. Another said Comey's firing and the subsequent comments from the White House were attacks that won't soon be forgotten.

Advertisement

Trump had "essentially declared war on a lot of people at the FBI", one official said. "I think there will be a concerted effort to respond over time in kind."

In a message to FBI staff yesterday, Comey wrote: "I have long believed that a president can fire an FBI director for any reason, or for no reason at all. I'm not going to spend time on the decision or the way it was executed. I hope you won't either. It is done, and I will be fine, although I will miss you and the mission deeply."

He added that "in times of turbulence, the American people should see the FBI as a rock of competence, honesty, and independence".