Joe Biden Campaign Director Rejects James Comey's Endorsement: 'How Can I Return It?'

The campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden was quick to denounce an endorsement from former FBI Director James Comey Tuesday, labeling the unsolicited support as a "package" that the presidential candidate "very much did not order"

Participating in what he said was his first Democratic primary, Comey threw his weight behind Biden, who was vice president during Comey's tenure as head of the FBI. On Tuesday, Comey expressed a desire to support a "party dedicated to restoring values" in the White House.

Citing similar remarks made by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, who ended her White House bid Monday and endorsed Biden, Comey wrote on Twitter: "We need a [sic] candidate who cares about all Americans and will restore decency, dignity to the office. There is a reason Trump fears @joebiden and roots for Bernie. #Biden2020."

Biden Director of Rapid Response Andrew Bates responded on the social media platform, signaling the campaign did not welcome Comey's endorsement with open arms.

"Yes, customer service?" Bates wrote in a tweet. "I just received a package that I very much did not order. How can I return it, free of charge?"

In a subsequent tweet, Bates said his comment was meant to be taken light-heartedly.

"I forgot the #1 rule of politics, which is that if you talk about anyone or anything related to 2016, common sense goes out the window," he wrote. "It was meant to be a lighthearted joke - not a rejection. We appreciate the vote of anyone repelled by Donald Trump."

Yes, customer service? I just received a package that I very much did not order. How can I return it, free of charge?

— Andrew Bates (@AndrewBatesNC) March 3, 2020

The Biden campaign did not respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

Comey is not the biggest fan among many Democrats and Republicans.

He was abruptly ousted from his post at the FBI in May 2017 after he refused a request for loyalty from President Donald Trump amid former special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian election interference. Trump and Republicans have accused Comey of trying to undermine his presidency. They also alleged he led an unknown group of "angry Democrats" within the bureau that operated as a "deep state."

Biden Campaign Denounces James Comey Endorsement
Former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey arrives at the Rayburn House Office Building before testifying to the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees on Capitol Hill December 17, 2018 in Washington, DC. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty

Democrats have accused Comey of playing politics with the 2016 election. They say he was detrimental in Hillary Clinton's loss to Trump by announcing 11 days before the election that he was reopening an investigation into the former secretary of state's use of private email servers.

Clinton was never criminally charged. And a review of the probe by the Justice Department's watchdog concluded that while Comey did not act with political bias, he and others at the bureau mishandled portions of the case, including by releasing information to the public.

Comey told CNN in April 2019 that his decision to publicly reopen the case in the run-up to the 2016 election was the "least terrible option."

"Do you break one [norm] and speak in a way that might have an impact on an election or do you conceal that what you told Congress all summer long is not true and by that... is to essentially lie to Congress and the American people," Comey said at the time.

"It wasn't a question of me trying to take a flame thrower to norms, it's trying to figure out in an agonizing situation which is the least terrible option," he continued. "Even in hindsight, I think I chose the least terrible option."

This story was updated to include additional remarks from Biden spokesman Andrew Bates.