Trump Just Contradicted His Own Team's Claims About James Comey

May 11th 2017

Ethan Simon

In an interview with NBC News on Thursday, President Donald Trump openly contradicted his own administration's story of James Comey's firing — a version of events that many had already deemed suspicious. While the Trump administration initially claimed the decision to fire Comey came after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions recommended it, Trump himself told NBC that he was going to fire the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation regardless.

What was the original story? 

Originally, the administration claimed the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General had recommended Comey be fired, and that Trump had only acted based on their recommendations. In a memo to the president, Rosenstein identifies Comey's decision to publicize details of the Clinton email investigation as a reason for his removal. But many found this odd, given Trump's own campaign-trail remarks, including praise for Comey and calls to lock up his Democratic opponent.

James Comey

The first story was fake news.

In his interview with NBC's Lester Holt, Trump said that, "regardless of [the] recommendation, I was going to fire Comey." So which is it? Did Trump "accept the recommendation" of his Justice Department appointees, as he stated in his letter to Comey informing he'd been fired, or did he want to fire Comey from the start?

This tweet from conservative pundit Bill Kristol sums it up:

So what's the big deal?

Comey was the head of the FBI. That means Comey was leading the investigation into the Trump campaign's alleged ties to Russia, and whether it colluded with Moscow prior to the 2016 election. And Trump just fired him. People in the media are already doing the math. 

The last time something like this happened? 1973, when President Richard Nixon fired the special prosecutor investigating Watergate.