Former FBI director James Comey appeared to take a subtle shot at Donald Trump after the US president called him a "political hack" over the weekend, and Twitter couldn't handle it. Trump lashed out at US intelligence agencies on Saturday, 11 November, over their conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and denounced the ongoing investigations into Russian meddling as a "Democratic hit job".
In January, multiple US intelligence agencies, including the CIA and the FBI, concluded "with high confidence" in a report that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a multifaceted "influence campaign" designed to undermine American democracy, hurt Hillary Clinton's chances and help Trump win the election.
Speaking with reporters on Air Force One, Trump sharply criticised Comey, along with former CIA director John Brennan and former director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
"I mean, give me a break, they are political hacks," he said. "So you look at it, I mean, you have Brennan, you have Clapper and you have Comey. Comey is proven now to be a liar and he is proven now to be a leaker."
Special counsel Robert Mueller, along with multiple congressional committees, are currently investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion between Trump's team and Moscow.
However, Trump slammed the investigation as a "Democratic-inspired thing" and a "pure hit job." He added that he wasn't going to "argue" with Putin over whether Russia interfered in the election.
"He said he didn't meddle," Trump said. "I asked him again. You can only ask so many times... I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it. I can't stand there and argue with him. I would rather have him get out of Syria, I would rather get to work with him on the Ukraine."
He added that Putin was "very insulted" by the allegations "which is not a good thing for our country".
Trump's remarks immediately drew fierce criticism, particularly from Democratic lawmakers and former intelligence chiefs Clapper and Brennan.
"First of all, he was referring to us as political hacks because he was trying to delegitimise the intelligence assessment that was done," Brennan told CNN's State of the Union, saying Trump is "giving Putin a pass" by not confronting the Russian leader directly. "I think it demonstrates to Mr Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to appeal to his ego and try to play upon his insecurities, which is very, very worrisome from a national security standpoint."
Trump later backtracked, saying, "I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election. As currently led by fine people, I believe very much in our intelligence agencies."
Meanwhile, former FBI head James Comey, who was fired by Trump in May, took to social media to seemingly respond to Trump's criticism.
Shortly after ditching his not-so-secret pseudonym Reinhold Niebuhr on Twitter and changing his handle to @Comey, he tweeted about truth, lies and justice in what many took as a subtweet to Trump's remarks.
He tweeted a quote by influential 19th century British Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon to seemingly convey his message.
Twitter immediately praised Comey for his "A+ subtweet game", with his pair of tweets garnering over 70,000 likes and over 22,000 retweets and counting.
"Former FBI boss dropping subtle hints," BBC's Joe Lynam tweeted.
"Your subtweeting game is unparalleled friend," Justin Halpern, the creator of 'Sh*t My Dad Says', tweeted. Another person wrote, "Your tweets are a breath of fresh air."