Trump Voters on Comey’s Ouster: Some Cheers, and Some Fears of a Cover-Up

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“I really believe — you might think I’m going overboard — she was probably one of the biggest criminals in American history,” Mr. Pantellas said.

Delaware County, like the Philadelphia suburbs as a whole, has trended blue in recent years, but it remains Republican-controlled, and Media itself is steeped in Republican lore: Ronald Reagan rallied supporters here in 1984, and John McCain and Sarah Palin drew throngs in 2008.

Trump voters are in abundance in county offices. But among those who crisscrossed the courthouse plaza on Wednesday, roughly as many championed the president’s dismissal of Mr. Comey as were troubled by it.


Jack Deorio said Mr. Comey’s dismissal was “long overdue.” Credit Hilary Swift for The New York Times

“I think it was long overdue,” Jack Deorio, who works for a security company, said of the dismissal. “If I was Trump, I would have fired him on my first day.”

“I was in the military,” Mr. Deorio added, pointing to Mrs. Clinton’s handling of classified information as the real outrage. “If I had done the same thing, I’d have been in Leavenworth.”

But Mr. Neary, among others who had voted for Mr. Trump, echoed the criticism of congressional Democrats in saying that the firing suggested an effort to squelch the F.B.I.’s investigation of ties between Russia and the Trump campaign in 2016. The president “is not above the law,” he said. “Once you start lying to the American people, you’re going to finally get caught and nothing good’s going to come of it.”


Ken Miniman, with Karen Warner, said he was having second thoughts about having voted for President Trump. “I believe it may be a cover-up,” he said. Credit Hilary Swift for The New York Times

Ken Miniman, 67, a semiretired dentist, said he was having second thoughts about having voted for Mr. Trump. “There’s got to be more to it than meets the eye,” he said. “I believe it may be a cover-up.”

James Compton, 70, entering the courthouse wearing a Vietnam veterans ball cap, saw the firing of Mr. Comey as the latest evidence of bipartisan dysfunction.

He voted for Mr. Trump, but said an independent prosecutor was in order. “I think that’s where they need to go,” he said. “And go all the way. I think there’s bad stuff all the way.”

But Michael J. O’Doherty, an accountant in a pinstripe suit, said Democrats calling for a special prosecutor were just grandstanding. “Chuck Schumer five months ago was basically calling for Comey’s ouster,” Mr. O’Doherty said. He predicted the whole business would blow over, like so many other uproars of the young administration, to be replaced by “whatever topic comes up next week.”

‘Not Afraid to Take Action’


James Compton saw the firing of Mr. Comey as the latest evidence of bipartisan dysfunction. Credit Hilary Swift for The New York Times

DAHLONEGA, Ga. — Dan Dieterle used to keep a cutout of Mr. Trump at his barbecue restaurant here in the north Georgia mountains.

The display is gone these days — a friend wanted it for his “man cave” — but Mr. Dieterle’s passion for Mr. Trump has not crested. On Wednesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after the sudden firing of Mr. Comey, Mr. Dieterle was resolute in his support for the president and his decision to oust the F.B.I. director.

“I think it’s something that needed to be done,” said Mr. Dieterle, 58. The firing, he said, proved that Mr. Trump was “a man of action, and he’s not afraid to take action.”

Mr. Dieterle all but laughed away liberal critics’ argument that Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey to poison the Russia inquiry.

“Do I believe that Donald Trump is in bed with the Russians? Oh, hell no,” he said. “Do I think it’s a lie that’s trying to be perpetrated by the left? Absolutely.”

He said he trusted “the powers that be” and the information that fueled the decision to fire Mr. Comey, and expected the next F.B.I. director to have “impeccable character and integrity.”

Mr. Dieterle was not alone in Lumpkin County, where Mr. Trump won 78 percent of the vote last fall.

“If you have to fire an F.B.I. director, there’s no good time to do it,” said Josh Cagle, the owner of a dry-cleaning shop. He said that former President Barack Obama should have fired Mr. Comey last summer — and that he believed Mrs. Clinton would have fired Mr. Comey if she had been elected.

“Either way, he went,” Mr. Cagle said. “I think it was his own fault for getting political. I think he brought it on himself.”

At Rusted Buffalo, an eclectic retail shop on the Dahlonega town square, Marie Garrett saw Mr. Comey’s dismissal as a necessary, inevitable product of Mr. Trump’s vow to clean house in Washington.

Working one of her three jobs, Ms. Garrett, 40, said she merely wanted familiar figures like Mr. Comey gone from government, no matter Mr. Trump’s rationale.

Ms. Garrett, who said she had become more supportive of Mr. Trump since he took office in January, said that some of the president’s backers had expected quicker action to advance his agenda, including his pledge to “drain the swamp.”

“People thought it was going to happen immediately, and it hasn’t,” she said. “I feel like he’s losing support. People think it needs to be done right now, right now, right now, and I feel like his supporters were expecting something way sooner.”

The dismissal of Mr. Comey, she said, might help.

Ms. Garrett said her support for Mr. Trump would not waver.

“I’m going to back up him no matter what,” she said. “He’s our president.”

She added that she had not given all presidents such backing.

‘I’d Like the Truth’


A rally last October in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where Mr. Trump praised the F.B.I. for renewing its investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s email use. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Over coffee and rounds of late-morning pinochle, the tables of mostly older, Republican voters in a supermarket cafe here in eastern Iowa were beginning to split on the question of whether the president they had supported was right to abruptly fire his F.B.I. director.

“He should have been fired a long time ago,” said Mel Trotter, 76, a Vietnam veteran and former car lot owner who was still angry that the F.B.I. had not supported federal criminal charges against Mrs. Clinton over the email issue.

“If he wasn’t doing his job, he should’ve been fired,” said Steve David, 68, a retired bricklayer.

But as he nursed a paper cup of coffee, Frank Wagner, 72, a retired industrial worker, represented a potential danger to Mr. Trump’s support, particularly in Iowa, a swing state that flipped into the Republican column after twice voting for Mr. Obama.

“I think he is knee-deep in Russia,” Mr. Wagner said about Mr. Trump. “There are too many things that tell you, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

Mr. Wagner, “a Republican but not a Trump guy,” said he had voted for Mr. Trump and was still glad that Mrs. Clinton was not the president. But he was suspicious of Mr. Trump’s continuing refusal to release his tax returns, and said that firing Mr. Comey had the whiff of an effort to squelch the investigations into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Mr. Wagner was unmoved by the Nixonian comparisons drawn by many Democrats. He said that he hadn’t paid much attention to politics during the Watergate era, but that he was dialed in now, adding, “I’d like the truth to come out.”

He said Mr. Trump’s bluster was “scary as hell,” and made him concerned about his children and grandchildren, as well as relatives who are the children of immigrants. He said he would not vote for a liberal Democratic challenger to Mr. Trump, but could support a conservative primary challenger, or even a moderate Democrat.

“I want to get Donny out,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind if he got kicked out tomorrow — he’s that bad. Once was enough.”

Yet Barbara Hames-Bryant, president of a manufactured-home retailer in Marion, Iowa, saw a business owner’s decisiveness at work.

“That’s points for Trump,” she said. “Whether Comey is right or wrong, he handled it quickly.”

On Wednesday Ms. Hames-Bryant sat in her-ground floor office, her desk cluttered with an obituary, a death certificate and other papers from her father, Troy Hames, who died on April 30 at the age of 92. Her father was a strong supporter of the state’s Republican congressional delegation, she said.

She herself was not an early supporter of Mr. Trump, but said she was encouraged by his pro-business posture. Cutting ties with employees or contractors was part of the job, she said, and she gave Mr. Trump credit for what she called an unequivocal break.

“People who don’t run a business don’t understand the reality of those decisions,” she said.

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