He wanted an FBI director who was investigating his own campaign associates to be “loyal” to the administration? If that doesn’t mean “He wanted Comey to tank the probe,” what does it mean?
The weirdest thing about the last 52 or so hours isn’t the fact that Comey was fired (although the timing is pretty weird), it’s the completely self-defeating spin that keeps coming from the White House. After the news broke and the White House cited Rod Rosenstein’s memo as a key factor in the firing, critics turned around and yelled, “Liar! Trump wanted Comey out, not Rosenstein!” So, earlier today, Trump goes on NBC and says … right, I wanted Comey out. Rosenstein didn’t matter. Then the critics yelled, “You only wanted Comey out so that you could stop the Russia investigation!” So here’s Sarah Huckabee Sanders at today’s White House briefing:
The White House said Thursday that removing FBI Director James Comey from his post may hasten the agency’s investigation into Russian meddling.
“We want this to come to its conclusion, we want it to come to its conclusion with integrity,” said deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders, referring to the FBI’s probe into Moscow’s interference in last year’s election. “And we think that we’ve actually, by removing Director Comey, taken steps to make that happen.”
“All you wanted was a lackey at the FBI who’d be loyal to the president,” the critics hollered, “not an independent investigator who’d find the truth!” So Kellyanne Conway goes on Fox and insists that one of the problems with Comey was his … lack of loyalty. Not the first time we’ve heard that this week, either. The DOJ isn’t supposed to show “loyalty” to the White House when it’s investigating something, particularly if the investigation may involve, uh, the White House, so what’s she talking about? Why can’t they just settle on “Comey had lost the public’s trust after last year” as their message and stick with it, for cripes sake?
Here’s the latest. So … Comey was fired because of the Russia investigation?
Trump to NBC: "When I decided to [fire Comey], I said to myself, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story."
— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) May 11, 2017
The key bit with Conway comes at 7:10 of the clip below. Sanders also claimed at today’s briefing that she’s heard from “countless” FBI agents who support Trump’s decision to fire Comey. I’m sure some do support it, but agents typically don’t chatter approvingly to people at the White House (let alone to a high-ranking press person) about a major political decision precisely because they’re not supposed to show political “loyalty.” Intel people interviewed by the media are far less approving of Comey’s firing, although a press that’s hostile to Trump can go out and find hostile sources with ease. We’ll know from the scope of the leaks in the weeks to come how angry the feds are about it. For what it’s worth, though, the visit to FBI headquarters that Trump had considered making tomorrow is reportedly off.