A secret memo by former FBI acting director Andrew McCabe suggested Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein provided a cover story for President Donald Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey, reported The New York Times.
The memo has been turned over to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. It discusses the firing of Comey, which plays an important role into the investigation of whether Trump tried to thwart the investigation of alleged Russian ties into his campaign.
McCabe was fired in March after it was declared he was not truthful in an internal investigation. He refuted the claims, saying it was a political effort to question him as a witness in the Russian investigation.
The memo describes a conversation with Rosenstein after Comey’s abrupt firing in May 2017. Rosenstein played a massive role in the firing after he drafted a memo that criticized the former FBI director’s role in handling Hilary Clinton’s investigation.
According to the conversation with Rosenstein, the president had asked him to write about Russia in his memo regarding Comey, instead when the memo came out there was no mention of Russia.
According to McCabe’s memo, this indicates Comey was indeed fired over the Russian investigation and Rosenstein provided the president with the cover story by citing the Clinton case.
According to another source familiar with the conversation, the president wanted Rosenstein to state he was not under direct investigation in the Russian probe.
The Trump administration has given varying accounts of Comey’s firing. First, Rosenstein’s memo was cited as the cause but later Trump admitted he planned to fire Comey even before Rosenstein’s memo.
“And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story,’” Trump said. “It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.”
And just last month, Trump again shifted stance, claiming Comey was not fired because of the Russian investigation.
Slippery James Comey, the worst FBI Director in history, was not fired because of the phony Russia investigation where, by the way, there was NO COLLUSION (except by the Dems)!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2018
The memo sheds further light on Rosenstein’s controversial role in the Russian investigation. He supervises the Russian probe, yet in a divisive step he allowed Trump’s congressional supporters to view classified information on the investigation.
Trump has also previously cited Rosenstein memo on Comey as a reason to fire the former FBI director rather obstruction of justice.
This makes the attorney general’s position even more interesting: he oversees an investigation into Trump, who cites his memo as part of proof he did not obstruct justice and Rosenstein has the power to decide whether the argument is valid.
Rosenstein has also defended his memo but added it was not written to justify as a cause for Comey’s firing.
“I wrote it. I believe it. I stand by it,” he said in a statement last year.
However, Rosenstein is also regarded as the wall between Trump and his decision to fire Mueller, which the president as mulled over publicly. Reports also suggested Trump wanted to fire Rosenstein. None of the firings have happened despite Trump’s continuous Twitter episodes of rage over the investigation.
On the matter of Comey’s firing, the president’s latest addition to his legal team Rudy Giuliani provided a new spin as to what resulted in the former FBI director’s termination.
“He fired Comey because Comey would not, among other things, say that he wasn’t a target of the investigation,” Giuliani said.
Banner / Thumbnail : REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein