President Donald Trump reportedly called former FBI Director James Comey a “nutjob” while meeting with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister a few days after he fired the Bureau chief.
According to the New York Times, an anonymous Trump administration official read the comments off an internal memorandum of the conversation to one of their reporters.
“I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Trump said. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
“I’m not under investigation,” he continued.
While the content of the conservation in and of itself is stunning, the fact that it was leaked at all shows that a high-ranking Trump administration official risked a jail sentence to reveal the information, which is considered classified. According to Michael Gerson, a former Bush-era official whose job entailed handling classified information, the director of the CIA would not even receive this memorandum.
As the investigation into possible collusion with the Russians by the then-Trump campaign ramps up, President Trump would be advised to staunch these types of links, or risk building evidence towards an obstruction of justice charge. Robert Mueller, who was recently appointed special counsel on the investigation by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has the power to bring criminal charges if he deems it necessary.
Multiple media outlets, including CNN, also cited current and former federal officials Monday who say that in March the president requested NSA Director Michael Rogers and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats make public statements denying Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with the Russian government. Both Rogers and Coats were taken aback by Trump’s suggestion and did not acquiesce.
These leaks are more bad news for an administration and president who desperately need some good press. The Washington Post reported that a current Trump administration official who is close to the president is considered a person of interest in the Russia investigation. NBC News later corroborated that story.
Trump is currently on an eight-day trip overseas, most likely thanking his lucky stars to escape the U.S. media, if only for a short while.
[New York Times] [Washington Post] [Reuters] [CNN] [Photo courtesy Getty Images via CNN]