UPDATE 3 — 5/12, 8:43 p.m. EDT: The Wall Street Journal is reporting Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein initiated a conversation with White House counsel, Don McGahn, insisting press officials walk-back previous statements about Rosenstein’s dissatisfaction with Comey’s job performance at the FBI as one of the main reasons for President Trump’s decision to fire him.
On Tuesday, Rosenstein wrote a memo to Trump at the White House’s behest outlining some serious concerns with the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, but never explicitly called for Comey’s firing.
UPDATE 2 — 1:10 p.m. EDT: In an interview with NBC News Thursday, President Trump claimed he was going to fire FBI Director James Comey regardless of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s recommendation.
“He’s a showboat, he’s grandstander, the FBI has been in turmoil,” Trump said of Comey.
Politico interviews with the heads of two FBI associations for current and retired agents, however, said Wednesday Comey enjoyed overwhelming support within the Bureau.
“People were upset about losing him, and how he was informed. That’s appalling to our membership. He was a well-respected, well-liked director,” said Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI executive director, Nancy Savage.
UPDATE — 11:37 a.m. EDT: In Senate testimony Thursday, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe vowed to keep the Bureau’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election away from White House ears and will alert the intelligence committee of any attempts by Trump’s administration to impede the probe.
So far, McCabe acknowledged, there has been no attempt by the White House to inhibit the FBI’s inquiry.
Former FBI Director James Comey asked for additional funding and resources for the investigation into Russian inference in the U.S. presidential election just days before he was fired, multiple media outlets reported anonymous federal officials saying Wednesday.
President Trump sacked Comey in a surprise move late Tuesday afternoon. Comey, an Obama-era appointee, recently came under fire after the FBI said that the director had incorrectly testified about Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Comey said during congressional testimony last week that Clinton aide Huma Abedin had hundreds to thousands of sensitive emails stored on her husband Anthony Weiner’s computer. However, the FBI said that was incorrect, and there were only two emails found on Weiner’s computer that contained classified information.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote a memo to Trump in which he cited Comey’s incorrect testimony as one of the reasons he recommended the director be fired.
“I cannot defend the Director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken,” it read.
In his dismissal letter, Trump said that there was a lack of trust in the director that needed to be corrected, stating: “It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission.”
However, many are questioning Trump’s motivation in firing Comey. Trump praised the now-former director during the fall election season after Comey publicly announced the FBI was again looking into Clinton’s emails and has expressed on numerous occasions his disappointment that Clinton was not criminally charged.
Thus, it seems odd to many that Trump would fire the director over this particular mistake Comey made — a mistake that Trump most likely politically benefited from.
The New York Times, among other outlets, are reporting the president was instead angry about Comey’s continued investigation into the Trump administration’s potential ties to Russia, an investigation that was just ramping up as Comey had recently requested additional DOJ support.
Grand jury subpoenas were issued Wednesday to associates of Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who was fired earlier this year after the Washington Post revealed he had lied about what was discussed at a meeting with the Russian Ambassador.
Now, Trump will be able to appoint an FBI director of his choosing, enabling him to handpick the individual responsible for investigating if there was any collusion between Trump administration officials and the Russian government.
Comey has been invited to testify at a private Senate Intelligence Committee hearing Tuesday, May 16.
[Washington Post] [ProPublica] [New York Times] [CNN] [Reuters] [AP] [Photo courtesy Washington Times]