Some Really Good Questions about the Comey Firing
First, wow (via WaPo):
the private accounts of more than 30 officials at the White House, the Justice Department, the FBI and on Capitol Hill, as well as Trump confidants and other senior Republicans, paint a conflicting narrative centered on the president’s brewing personal animus toward Comey.
To have that many person willing is pretty stunning.
The great question:
Why was Sessions involved in discussions about the fate of the man leading the FBI’s Russia investigation, after having recused himself from the probe because he had falsely denied under oath his own past communications with the Russian ambassador?
Why had Trump discussed the Russia probe with the FBI director three times, as he claimed in his letter dismissing Comey, which could have been a violation of Justice Department policies that ongoing investigations generally are not to be discussed with White House officials?
And how much was the timing of Trump’s decision shaped by events spiraling out of his control — such as Monday’s testimony about Russian interference by former acting attorney general Sally Yates, or the fact that Comey last week requested more resources from the Justice Department to expand the FBI’s Russia probe?
And from today in “surprising, but yet not surprising”:
Trump’s team did not have a full-fledged communications strategy for how to announce and then explain the decision. As Trump, who had retired to the residence to eat dinner, sat in front of a television watching cable news coverage of Comey’s firing, he noticed another flaw: Nobody was defending him.
The president was irate, according to White House officials. Trump pinned much of the blame on Spicer and Dubke’s communications operation, wondering how there could be so many press staffers yet such negative coverage on cable news — although he, Priebus and others had afforded them almost no time to prepare.
“This is probably the most egregious example of press and communications incompetence since we’ve been here,” one West Wing official said. “It was an absolute disaster. And the president watched it unfold firsthand. He could see it.”
And oh, the unintentional symbolism of it all:
Spicer, meanwhile, threw together an impromptu news conference with reporters in the White House driveway, a few minutes before he taped a series of short television interviews inside the West Wing, where the lighting was better for the cameras. The press secretary stood alongside tall hedges in near darkness and agreed to answer questions with the cameras shuttered.
“Just turn the lights off,” Spicer ordered. “Turn the lights off. We’ll take care of this.”
h/t: OTBer Chris Lawrence for highlighting those 30 sources.