In an interview with NBC on Thursday, President Donald Trump revealed little of weight when it came to his dubiously-timed decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey. Instead, he led viewers down a rabbit hole of contradictions while offering up bizarre details that made him look even more suspicious than he did a day ago.
Aside from calling Comey a "showboat" and "grandstander" (pot calling the kettle black), Trump insisted that he had fired Comey because the bureau had descended into "turmoil" due to his leadership (more pots and kettles). He also repeated over and over that he, and only he, had made the decision to fire Comey.
“I was going to fire Comey — my decision,” Trump told NBC Anchor Lester Holt. “I was going to fire regardless of recommendation. [Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein] made a recommendation. He’s highly respected, very good guy, very smart guy. The Democrats like him. The Republicans like him. He made a recommendation. But regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.”
However, that version of the truth not only conflicts with Trump's own letter ordering Comey to leave his position at the FBI, but also with other White House accounts as to why exactly Comey was let go.
Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions each wrote letters of recommendation for Comey's dismissal, despite Sessions' earlier promise to recuse himself from any investigation into ties between the Trump camp and Russia. Additionally, Vice President Mike Pence said that the president had also followed the advice of Justice Department officials.
With all the different stories we're getting, it's as if the Trump administration is throwing everything at the wall and hoping something will stick. If the expectedly messy way the White House is handling this chaos is not enough to send alarm bells ringing though, keep watching the interview and you'll hear sirens.
"Let me ask you about your termination letter to Mr. Comey," prefaced Holt. "You write, 'I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation.' Why did you put that in there?"
"Because he told me that," Trump said and, after pressure from Holt, elaborated that one time happened at a dinner in the early days of his administration, and the other two times during phone calls.
"I actually asked him [if I was under investigation]," he explained. "I said, 'If it's possible will you let me know, am I under investigation?' He said, 'You are not under investigation.'"
According to Ali Vitali and Corky Siemaszko of NBC, "It would be highly unusual for someone who might be the focus of an FBI probe to ask whether he was under investigation and to be directly told by the FBI director that he was not."
The unlikeliness of Trump's purported conversations with Comey aside, FBI officials beg to differ.
In response to his claims that Comey had told him on three separate occasions that he was not under investigation, an unnamed bureau associate told The Wall Street Journal, "That is literally farcical."
Not a single bit of any of this adds up. Forget pots and kettles; the whole kitchen's on fire.