Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters she did not understand why it is “so complicated” for them that Donald Trump this week fired the FBI director overseeing an investigation into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russian agents trying to impact the election.
The White House’s latest crisis of credibility was created on Tuesday when Trump sacked James Comey which, White House press reps and Veep Mike Pence explained that evening, he did after accepting the recommendation to fire of new-ish Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Two days later, Sanders was back in the White House briefing room, pitching a new storyline that Donald Trump already had delivered, in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt. This new storyline had Trump deciding some time ago that Comey was a “showboat” and “grandstander” who had to go, but had asked for input from Rosenstein, to whom Comey reported and who has been on the job just a few weeks.
Sanders also insisted there was nothing to see here, in re Trump telling Holt that he had included, in his letter firing Comey the claim Comey had told him three times he’s not under investigation in an ongoing investigation.
Trump told Holt that the first time he discussed that with Comey was at a January dinner Comey asked for because, Trump explained, Comey wanted to hang on to his FBI job. At that dinner, Trump said he responded that he would see how things go, and asked Comey if he was under investigation.
“I don’t see that as a conflict of interest,” Sanders said, citing “several legal scholars” she did not name, who she said had spoken on the subject after NBC broadcast the interview.
Trump told Holt that Comey also said he was not under investigation during two phone calls. The first of those calls was initiated by Trump, POTUS said, adding that he had asked if it was possible for Comey to let him know if he was under investigation. “He said, ‘You are not under investigation’,” Trump told Holt.
“I know I’m not under investigation,” Trump added. “I’m not talking about campaigns, anything else. I’m not under investigation.”
Sanders also blasted Dems for acting so knicker knotted about the firing now, given that, back in July, they were calling for his removal when he announced the FBI was probing Hillary Clinton over her emails. Dems on the Hill have noted that, since then, the FBI announced it was investigating Russian interference in the election and whether Trump campaign advisers colluded with those Russian agents. Some Dems have questioned the timing of Comey’s sacking as that investigation is gaining steam.