Originally, the White House’s position was that Comey was sacked on the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who cited the FBI director’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation during the campaign.
A Democratic member of Congress, Ted Lieu, drew an instant conclusion about the implications, tweeting: “This. Is”.
The BBC’s Gary O’Donoghue, in Washington, says the White House has chosen to interpret the president’s words as relating to the national interest rather than to himself. There never has been, and never will be, any political interference in any matter under my supervision in the United States Department of Justice.
Critics accused the president of trying to thwart the FBI investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the USA election and any Moscow ties to Trump associates.
Now Americans will hear from Comey.
Two more bombshell reports published Friday afternoon delivered a one-two punch to the Trump White House regarding the investigation into its potential ties to Russian Federation, capping off a week where each day dealt a fresh blockbuster blow to the administration.
It is a candid internal memorandum about the FBI Director’s public statements concerning a high-profile criminal investigation.
The FBI’s investigation seeks to determine whether and to what extent Trump associates were in contact with Kremlin operatives, what business dealings they might have had in Russian Federation, and whether they in any way facilitated the hacking and publishing of Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails during the presidential campaign.
The bad news didn’t end there.
Mr Comey’s ouster followed requests from the President that he stop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign for misrepresenting a conversation he had with Russian officials to Vice President Mike Pence.
Equally intriguing was the question of where these reports are coming from.
Trump’s May 10 meeting with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and visiting Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was controversial enough, seeing as it took place the morning after he unexpectedly axed Comey and claimed that the firing had nothing to do with the F.B.I.’s probe into his presidential campaign’s ties to Russian Federation.
The timing is especially damaging.
The White House didn’t confirm or deny either report, in a pair of statements sent together from Air Force One.
The content and timing suggest Trump has some enemies inside the US government.
Chaffetz has scheduled a hearing on Comey’s firing next Wednesday, although it’s not clear if Comey will testify. “I stand by it”, he said. Like so many things coming out of the White House lately, this seems both sinister and utterly moronic.
Another trouble spot for Trump has to do with finances.
The new headlines were a fresh indication that Trump would not be able to change the subject from what appears to be an intensifying investigation reaching toward the president and his inner circle.
Additionally, a special counsel was appointed this week – the well-regarded former head of the FBI, Robert Mueller. He has also had the full-throated backing of conservative media. “He thought he had gotten through and not been noticed or singled out and that he was going to get away without an individual interaction”, Benjamin Wittes, a friend of Comey’s, told The New York Times. They said, however, that the case had already increased in significance prior to Mueller’s appointment.