There are two reasons why President Donald Trump fired James Comey, according to a source close to the now-former FBI director:
- Comey never provided the President with any assurance of personal loyalty.
- The fact that the FBI’s investigation into possible Trump team collusion with Russia in the 2016 election was accelerating.
The official White House version of what happened is that deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, fresh on the job, wrote a memo expressing concern about the way Comey had handled the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
But mounting evidence suggests Comey was actually fired because of the Russian investigation.
Rosenstein, in his memo, faulted Comey for being unfair to Clinton when he announced his conclusion last July that the case against Clinton should be closed without prosecution. He also criticized Comey for holding a press conference in which he “Release(d) derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation.”
The official version of the firing is that the President took the advice of the deputy attorney general, who ever since Attorney General Sessions’ recusal, oversees the director of the FBI.
“This whole thing is very simple – you’re trying to make it very complex,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said on CNN Tuesday morning. “This is a president who saw that the FBI director had lost the public confidence, the confidence of Republicans and Democrats.”
But we know from his public statements that Trump does not share any of Rosenstein’s concerns that Comey was unfair to Clinton. In fact, he faulted Comey for the opposite – for not criminally charging Clinton.
In addition to that fact, Rosenstein’s memo was dated May 9, Tuesday – but White House officials tell CNN the president had been considering firing Comey since he took office, but most intensely for at least a week before Tuesday’s fateful decision. Comey testified May 3 to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Clinton email investigation and the Russia election investigation
If only there was some way for us to see what was on the President’s mind in real time last week.
Oh right – there’s Twitter….
Let’s take a look at the President’s late-night tweetstorm of twitter May 2, just before Comey’s testimony.
“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?”
Moreover, the letter the President wrote to Comey firing him includes zero references to the Clinton investigation and one big one about the Russia investigation.
The White House does not seem to like any questions about this.
“You want to question the timing of when the President fires, when he hires. It’s inappropriate,” said Conway Wednesday. “He’ll do it when he wants to, just like he fired FBI Director Comey when he was faced with evidence that was unignorable.”
Except of course that evidence about how Comey had treated the Clinton investigation was quite ignorable for the President for more than three months after he took office or until he needed a reason to fire him.
One other point to be questioned has to do with the role of Sessions, who officially removed himself from the Russia investigation as it related to US political campaigns after it became clear he had not been forthcoming about his meetings during the presidential campaign with the Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. Still, he cited his own ties to the Trump campaign as the reason for his recusal.
“I have now decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matter relating in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States,” Sessions said back in March.
Except that recusal oddly does not appear to have been in effect when Sessions forwarded the letter from his deputy, Rosenstein, to the President and separately called for Comey to be fired. And it is not in apparent effect now as we’re told Sessions is leading the search Comey’s replacement.