President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting. “He was insane, a real nut job”, the Times reported that Trump said during the May 10 meeting.
According to Rosenstein’s prepared remarks for his closed-door briefing before members of the House of Representatives and Senates, the future deputy attorney general writes that “in one of my first meetings with then-Senator Jeff Sessions last winter, we discussed the need for new leadership at the Federal Bureau of Investigation”.
Did he urge Comey at a February meeting to drop his probe of the Russian Federation connections of Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn?
Among Trump’s senior White House advisers are several former campaign officials, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and Kellyanne Conway.
United States media reports this week cited a memo Comey wrote in February alleging that Trump asked him to halt his investigation of Flynn, prompting further calls for Trump’s impeachment.
The Twitter messages and Coast Guard Academy remarks were in stark contrast to the statement issued by Trump after the Wednesday night appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate alleged Russian meddling in the US presidential election and other matters.
The appointment of Mueller as special counsel has drawn generally favorable comments from Democrats and from some Republicans as well. Trump has insisted at times that the decision was his alone, but he also has pointed to the “very strong” recommendation from Rosenstein.
“This surprised me because I had always thought well of Rosenstein”, Wittes recalls, adding that Comey did not appear “enthusiastic”.
Rosenstein said in his Wednesday announcement that, “based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command”.
At the same time, congressional committees are continuing their own investigations, leading to some turf warfare and sniping as the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee both sought to lay claim to testimony from Comey, while the House Oversight Committee also hoped to hear from the former director.
The Justice Department on Friday released the text of Rosenstein’s opening remarks for the briefings on Capitol Hill.
The No. 2 Senate Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, said he was supportive of investigations in Congress but expressed concern about the “proliferation” of hearings. Nor were there any major legal scandals involving former President Barack Obama.