President Donald Trump mulled firing James Comey from Day 1, Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a do-over storyline from the one the White House put forward yesterday immediately after Trump’s stunning move to sack the FBI director.
Trump had considered letting Comey go since the day he got elected, Sanders insisted. That begged the question why White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has said on several occasions, in answer to direct questions, that Comey had Trump’s full confidence. Spicer made that claim as recently as this month. Sanders filled in for Spicer, who is on reserve duty, at Wednesday’s packed press briefing, the morning after Trump fired Comey, shocking Washington.
Some TV news outlets reported that the White House was taken by surprise when Dems reacted to the sacking with outrage and called Trump’s move Nixonian. Sanders acknowledged the White House found it “startling that Democrats aren’t celebrating this.”
“If Hillary had won, which thank god she didn’t” and had fired Comey, “Democrats would have been dancing in the streets,” Sanders speculated.
Trump reportedly monitored Sanders’ performance during the briefing, because he was sharply critical of the press department’s handling of Comey’s whacking Tuesday night.
Doing his own damage control this morning, Trump took to Twitter to insist Dems are gonna love this once they un-bunch their undies:
Hours later, Trump told reporters he had fired Comey because “he was not doing a good job.”
Sanders insisted a “big catalyst” for the decision came last week when Comey made the “startling revelation” he’d “taken a stick of dynamite to the Department of Justice” last July. That’s when Comey went around chain of command at DOJ to announce no prosecution against Hillary Clinton. In July, Trump was a candidate, and had heaped praise on Comey for his handling of Clinton’s email probe. Asked to reconcile the two positions, Sanders drew a distinction between Candidate Trump and President Trump.
She said newly installed deputy AG Rod Rosenstein recommended action against Comey for the “atrocities” he had committed as FBI director, adding, “any person of legal mind and authority knows what a big deal that is.”
Trump took his recommendation, but the decision was his, Sanders said, denying that Trump had asked Rosenstein to find a pretext for sacking Comey.
The firing comes after Comey told the heads of the Senate intelligence committee that he went to Rosenstein last week to request more resources for the FBI’s Russia investigation, according to various media reports.
Sen. Mark Warner has invited Comey to testify next week to the Senate committee investigating Russian meddling in the presidential election.