The 2 times Comey embarrassed Trump on Capitol Hill

Story highlights

  • We might never know what was going through Trump's mind when he fired Comey
  • But we do know for sure that Comey twice embarrassed the President

Washington (CNN)The White House says President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey because of his treatment of Hillary Clinton. But there's mounting evidence it also had something to do with the continuing investigation by the FBI into the Trump campaign's potential ties to Russia.

CNN's Jake Tapper has reported a source close to Comey says the now-former director never offered his loyalty to President and that the pace of the investigation into alleged Russian connections to the Trump campaign was actually quickening.
We might never know what was going through Trump's mind when he took the unprecedented step.
    But we do know for sure that Comey twice embarrassed the President while testifying in front of Congress by directly undercutting something Trump had been pushing.
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    Trump was reportedly furious when Comey said he was "mildly nauseous" at the thought he might have influenced the 2016 election. Comey also said the Russia investigation was continuing, although he wouldn't give specifics.
    How did this undercut Trump?
    Consider that Comey's testimony about the Russia investigation came the day after Trump tweeted the investigation was bogus. If you put Trump's two tweets hours before Comey's testimony together, it reads like this:
    "FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds! The phony......Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election. Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign?"
    The subsequent testimony by Comey confirmed for the world that the Russia investigation wasn't "phony," but rather continuing -- and serious. He also said Russians were continuing to try to influence the American Democratic process.
    That wasn't the first time -- or even the most embarrassing for Trump -- that Comey flashed his independence in a very public way on Capitol Hill.
    A more glaring example took place back in March, when Comey was read and disputed tweets from Trump about the current President's conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama had ordered him "wiretapped" during the 2016 campaign.
    Comey was testifying in front of the House intelligence committee, which is conducting its own investigation into the Russia allegations. It was the first time Comey publicly confirmed the FBI investigation into alleged Trump campaign ties to Russia.
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    Comey offered all sorts of caveats at the hearing. A "no comment" from him shouldn't be taken as confirmation or denial of anything. And so on. But he did say, definitively, that no US president could unilaterally order the surveillance of a citizen, which amounted to a very public rejection of Trump's unfounded allegation about Obama.
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    That testimony devastated the conspiracy theory Trump had launched and pursued that his campaign had been surveilled under the order of Obama. It's not a theory Trump has talked about since.
    Comey also said at that March hearing that the Russians had sought to influence the US election and that they almost seemed to be trying to get caught -- being "unusually loud" in their interventions.
    The day after Comey's March testimony, Trump tweeted disparagingly from his @POTUS account and seemed to pivot from the discounted conspiracy theory to a new one.
    "FBI Director Comey refuses to deny he briefed President Obama on calls made by Michael Flynn to Russia," said the tweet, which was sent out shortly after 12:30 p.m. ET., along with video of the exchange between Comey and Rep. Trey Gowdy.
    CNN's headline on the accompanying story was, "Rebuffed by Comey's testimony, Trump tweet teases new theory."
    Trump was clearly trying to make it seem like Comey and his predecessor had been in cahoots and that Comey had informed on Flynn to the President. There's no evidence to support any of that, by the way.
    But it is yet a little more evidence of the animus Trump had for his erstwhile FBI director.