BBC World Service interviewed a former Republican attorney general (I missed some of it, including his name; the voice was not familiar, so it might have been a deputy AG), who defended the firing of Comey by citing the reasons Trump gave, to the letter.
The only problem is, Sarah Sanders was busy in the White House briefing room undermining those reasons:
The first was a version of the story from yesterday: the DOJ leadership told him to. According to Sanders, Rod Rosenstein visited the White House Monday and told the President that he believed Comey should be fired. The President, in essence, asked for it in writing. He received the letters Tuesday and promptly acted on the advice and fired Comey.
That was the version defended to the BBC. But note it doesn't linger long as the reason:
She also said that the President has been thinking about firing Comey since he entered office and has slowly lost confidence in his leadership of the FBI. I thought I heard her say that he’s thought about firing Comey every day since he was inaugurated. But I couldn’t find that in the transcript. If she did say it, it would be one of the few statements I find credible.You can't reconcile these three. Rather like the two nativity stories which we now easily overlap into one, there are actually irreconcilable differences you have to overlook in order to make these three reasons one coherent reason.
Sanders also said that the President was particularly troubled by Comey’s testimony last Wednesday in which he described and justified his decisions to make public pronouncements about the Clinton emails probe. He was apparently disturbed that Comey disregarded the DOJ chain of command. This was just one more thing, in Sanders’ telling, that sapped Trump’s confidence.
A) The DOJ told him to do it. That was the version peddled on the BBC, and no informed person can really believe it, especially in light of Politico's reporting. But even if you do, then how do you accept
B) Trump has been thinking about this since January 20? Except, of course, he asked Comey to stay on, so that bit of revisionist history needs some revising. It also can't even shake hands with A), because they are fundamentally at odds with each other. The next one is closer to B, but still leaves A) an orphan:
C) It all happened last Wednesday. Or that was the last straw, because Trump had been thinking about this anyway; and then the DOJ rushed in, unbeknownst to Trump, with a memo and a letter denouncing the way Comey had handled the Clinton e-mail investigation, and with that Trump had no choice but to announce the firing ASAP, even as Comey was giving a speech in Los Angeles and before Trump's private bodyguard (!) could deliver the letter to FBI headquarters in D.C. Which works, except the memo from Rosentstein was dated May 9, 2017. As was Jeff Sessions' letter to Donald Trump; as was Donald Trump's letter firing James Comey.
So Rosenstein visited the White House on Monday, wrote a three page memo on Tuesday, which caused Jeff Sessions to write a letter on Tuesday, and Donald Trump to write a letter on Tuesday, because time was of the essence and Trump was planning to do this since his inauguration and he made his decision last Wednesday but it wasn't decided until last Monday? Or was that Tuesday?
See? Business as usual. Nothing to see here. Move along.
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