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    Boston FBI chief urged agents to stay focused after Comey firing

    Then-FBI director James Comey spoke at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the FBI’s new facility in Chelsea, while Harold Shaw, special agent in charge of Boston’s FBI division, looked on last year.
    John Blanding/Globe STaff/File
    Then-FBI director James Comey spoke at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the FBI’s new facility in Chelsea, while Harold Shaw, special agent in charge of Boston’s FBI division, looked on last year.

    The head of the Boston FBI office asked his agents to “stay focused” during these “surprising and tumultuous times” after learning that President Trump had fired FBI director James Comey last year, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act to the Lawfare website.

    Harold H. Shaw, special agent in charge in Boston, wrote to his staff at 6:18 p.m. on May 9, 2017: “As you’ve likely heard within the media, President Trump has removed FBI Director Comey this afternoon. I’m actively working to get any additional information, and will immediately pass to keep you updated. Our mission continues and we’ll deal with the unexpected change and eventual transition. Wish I had more to share at this point. Once I get anything new, will update accordingly.”

    According to the documents, which were posted on the Lawfare site, Shaw wrote again at 8:11 p.m., saying that he had just gotten off a conference call with then-deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe.

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    Acknowledging the “surprising and tumultuous times,” Shaw wrote, “As you can expect, there will be some changes on the horizon. Please stay focused, continue to get the job done, and know that your country depends on you. We all joined this organization to make a difference, give back, and take the bad guys off the street. No matter who’s leading the FBI, our mission and what we strive for on a daily basis will never change.”

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    Kristen Setera, a spokeswoman for the Boston FBI, said, “we’re going to decline to comment and let the documents speak for themselves.”

    Lawfare said it sought the e-mails after the White House claimed, in the wake of Comey’s firing, that the rank and file at the FBI had lost confidence in Comey and that the FBI was in turmoil. Lawfare reported that, rather than what the White House had suggested, 103 pages of records obtained under the FOIA indicated there was “shock” and “profound sadness” at the bureau at Comey’s removal.

    While the e-mails by Shaw did not express any opinions on Comey’s removal, others did, Lawfare reported.

    For example, Phoenix Special Agent in Charge Michael DeLeon, said, “We all felt the pain associated with the loss of a leader who was fully engaged and took great pride in the FBI organization and our employees. Simply stated, Director Comey will be missed.” And John Bennett, the special agent in charge in San Francisco, wrote: “These events are hard to hear and harder to comprehend.”

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    Lawfare is a blog on national security issues published in conjunction with the Brookings Institution, a highly regarded think tank in Washington.