President Donald Trump’s sudden decision to fire FBI Director James Comey came as a huge shock to everyone — including Comey himself, as he found out about his sudden dismissal through TV while he was addressing intelligence officials in Los Angeles.
The rationale behind his firing was straightforward (if not extremely ridiculous), but the White House maintained Comey was terminated for his handling of former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.
The irony here, as several people pointed out almost instantly, was that both Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who reportedly urged the president to get rid of the now-former FBI director, had previously praised Comey for launching the investigation just a little before the November election.
“It took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made in light of the kind of opposition he had where they’re trying to protect her from criminal prosecution,” Trump said at the time. “I was not his fan, but I’ll tell you what: What he did, he brought back his reputation. He brought it back.”
In January, right after assuming office, Trump not only visited the FBI headquarters and blew kisses at Comey, but he also said Comey would continue serving in his position.
No one really believed White House’s initial statement on Comey’s departure. The consensus seemed to be that Trump had fired him over his last week’s testimony, where he discussed the ongoing investigation about Russian involvement in the U.S. presidential election.
NBC News: Multiple FBI insiders say they believe James Comey was fired because he would not end Russia investigation, Pete Williams reports.— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) May 10, 2017
However, the story began to unravel as Sarah Huckabee Sanders took over the White House press briefing, filling in for press secretary Sean Spicer, who was probably hiding in the bushes at the time, and said the president reached the decision to fire Comey after losing confidence in him.
Along with claiming Comey committed “atrocities” during his time in office — a far-fetched statement that drew severe criticism — Sanders also acknowledged Trump had requested the memo after having an oral briefing, which apparently wasn’t about Comey but ended up being about him, from the DOJ.
It contradicted the first official statement that Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had independently recommended Comey’s termination.
Things got even more confusing — and suspicious — after the White House released a timeline of events that led Trump to make the astounding decision.
The White House just sent out this "official timeline" of Trump's decision to fire Comey. pic.twitter.com/UinibGNfJ7— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) May 10, 2017
It says Trump started losing confidence on Comey over the last several months.
Since the president’s Twitter timeline is a glimpse into his soul, it is important to note that Trump’s recent criticism of Comey stemmed from the classified leaks about Russian interference in the U.S. election — none of it had to do with Clinton’s email scandal.
The FBI is totally unable to stop the national security "leakers" that have permeated our government for a long time. They can't even......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 24, 2017
find the leakers within the FBI itself. Classified information is being given to media that could have a devastating effect on U.S. FIND NOW— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 24, 2017
As for the testimony mentioned in the statement, it was not all about the email probe. The Russian investigation was also brought up.
Could that be what made Trump so uncomfortable?
"After he confirmed to Senate he was investigating my campaign, I was strongly inclined to make him not do that." pic.twitter.com/AFei1PUDya— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) May 10, 2017
According to Reuters, a former Trump adviser said the president was angry because Comey did not publicly exonerate him in the FBI investigation into the contacts between Russian ambassador to U.S. Sergei Kislyak and Trump campaign advisers.
“He regretted what he did to Hillary but not what he did to Trump,” the anonymous adviser said of Comey.
With every new statement, the Trump administration just continues to contradict itself, giving a glimpse into the turmoil and chaos roiling in the White House.