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FILE PHOTO: Former FBI Director James Comey is sworn in prior to testifying before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Annual employee surveys released by the FBI on Wednesday show former Director James Comey was highly regarded, contradicting President Donald Trump's claim when he fired Comey this year that he had lost the confidence of the agency's workers.

The voluntary survey conducted in 2017 showed Comey received top marks on all but two of more than 90 questions. He scored high marks for expressing a compelling vision for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and helping morale, with respondents strongly agreeing that they would choose to work with him again.

The findings contradict statements made by Trump and White House officials at the time of Comey's firing on May 9. Trump insisted he fired Comey because of job performance and told a news conference the FBI chief "was very unpopular with most people." Trump portrayed the FBI under Comey as being a mess.

Comey told a Senate panel that White House claims the FBI was in disarray and poorly led were "lies, plain and simple." Other senior FBI officials praised Comey and said they were proud to have worked with him, but the workplace surveys were the first broad measure of employee sentiment toward him.

Trump's reasons for firing Comey shifted over time, and he told one interviewer the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election was on his mind when he made the decision.

Comey told lawmakers he thought he was fired because of the Russia investigation. His firing is now part of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into ties between Russian officials and Trump's political campaign.

(Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by David Gregorio)

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