Trump: I Didn’t Fire Comey Over Russia. (He Totally Fired Comey Over Russia.)

President Trump is claiming that he didn't fire former F.B.I. Director James Comey because of the Russia investigation, even though he admitted the exact opposite just weeks after it happened.

Donald Trump took to Twitter today to claim that he didn’t fire former F.B.I. Director Donald Trump James Comey because of the Russia investigation even though he had previously admitted that he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation:

President Trump claimed Thursday he did not fire James Comey as FBI director over the Russia investigation, despite his prior statements that the issue contributed to Comey’s firing.

“Not that it matters but I never fired James Comey because of Russia! The Corrupt Mainstream Media loves to keep pushing that narrative, but they know it is not true!” he tweeted.

(…)

Comey’s firing is a focal point of Mueller’s probe into whether Trump obstructed the investigation into ties between his campaign and Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

Trump and his allies have offered a series of changing explanations for his decision to fire Comey, which has complicated investigators’ effort to determine his intent.

Here’s Trump’s Tweet:

All of this runs counter to the facts that have unfolded over the past year since the President fired Comey abruptly just days after the former F.B.I. Director had testified regarding the Russia investigation before a Senate committee. In that hearing, Comey publicly disclosed for the first time that the investigation included not just accusations of Russian interference in the election but also had expanded At the time Comey was fired, the Administration took the position that he was being fired due to his mishandling of the investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and her handling of classified information They even released a long memorandum that had been prepared by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that sought to justify the President’s action on that basis. Very quickly, though, it became apparent that there were other motives involved in the decision to fire Comey that had nothing to do with the Clinton investigation. As the days went on, though, it became more and more apparent that Comey was been fired because of the President’s frustration with the Russia investigation, something that Trump himself seemed to confirm. Trump topped off this revelation by appearing to threaten Comey with ‘tapes’ of conversations between the two men. Later, we learned that Trump had told the Russian Ambassador to the United States and the Russian Foreign Minister that he had fired Comey because of the Russia investigation just days after Comey’s dismissal. Finally, by the end of the week that had begun with Comey’s firing last year, Trump admitted that to Lester Holt of NBC News that he had fired Comey because of the Russia investigation. More recently, Trump appeared to try to walk those comments from last May back, but his own attorney Rudy Giuliani acknowledged in an interview earlier this month that Comey was indeed fired because of the Russia investigation.

Here’s the relevant section of the interview between Trump and Holt from more than a year ago:

This Trump tweet appears to be motivated by a report that appears in today’s New York Times that sheds further light on the motivation for Comey’s firing and once again confirms that the President’s motivation for the firing was clearly related to the Russia investigation:

WASHINGTON — The former acting F.B.I. director, Andrew G. McCabe, wrote a confidential memo last spring recounting a conversation that offered significant behind-the-scenes details on the firing of Mr. McCabe’s predecessor, James B. Comey, according to several people familiar with the discussion.

Mr. Comey’s firing is a central focus of the special counsel’s investigation into whether President Trump tried to obstruct the investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia. Mr. McCabe has turned over his memo to the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

In the document, whose contents have not been previously reported, Mr. McCabe described a conversation at the Justice Department with the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, in the chaotic days last May after Mr. Comey’s abrupt firing. Mr. Rosenstein played a key role in the dismissal, writing a memo that rebuked Mr. Comey over his handling of an investigation into Hillary Clinton.

But in the meeting at the Justice Department, Mr. Rosenstein added a new detail: He said the president had originally asked him to reference Russia in his memo, the people familiar with the conversation said. Mr. Rosenstein did not elaborate on what Mr. Trump had wanted him to say.

As several commentators have noted this morning, this revelation puts Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in somewhat of a difficult position because it suggests that Rosenstein may be a fact witness in the Mueller investigation to the extent that Mueller is looking at this McCabe memorandum and any conversations that Rosenstein may have had with the President related to the Russia investigation and the justification for firing Comey. If it were to be the case that Mueller considers the McCabe memo to be an important piece of evidence in the underlying investigation as it relates to potential obstruction of justice, then one can make the case that Rosenstein should recuse himself. If it turns out that the McCabe memo is not really a part of the investigation, then Rosenstein doesn’t really need to recuse himself. For what it’s worth, the report above does note in an unquoted portion that Rosenstein had consulted with the same ethics advisers in the Department of Justice that had recommended to Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he needed to recuse himself from the Russia investigation due to his role in the Trump campaign and his own contact with Russian government officials such as the Russian Ambassador to the United States.

Leaving the Rosenstein issue to the side for the moment, though, this Times report is yet further evidence that, nothwithstanding his claim on Twitter today, President Trump did indeed first James Cpomey due to the Russia investigation. He admitted this several times in the immediate aftermath of the event, he admitted it in a television interview that everyone can watch with their own eyes, and this McCabe memo appears to indicate he had initially directed Rod Rosenstein to include the investigation in his memorandum listing the reasons for Comey’s firing. In other words, this latest tweet is a bald faced lie. Which, of course, is just standard operating procedure for this President.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Law and the Courts, Politicians, Russia Investigation, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. teve tory says:

    Comey is 6’8″. Honestly he might’ve fired Comey for being taller than him.

    (Yeah he obviously admitted he was doing it to obstruct justice, but I mean that too. 😛 )

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  2. teve tory says:

    My granddad went to his grave believing Richard Nixon was innocent. There will always be people going Full Retard.

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  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Dennison to his Russian overlords…

    “I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job… I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off. … I’m not under investigation.”

    Between the obvious lie in this tweet, and the D’Souza pardon, it’s pretty clear Dennison sees the writing on the wall, is in full IDGAF mode, and is just trolling us while he waits for the inevitable.
    In the meantime Melania has gone MIA.

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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    SSDD.

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  5. Hal_10000 says:

    I’ve had with this gaslighting gasbag. Over the last few days, several Trump members have admitting that this what they are doing. He’s just seeing how far he can push it.

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  6. Kathy says:

    OMG. He’s on record admitting to firing Comey because of the Russia investigation. No honest person with more than one working neuron could possibly believe any denials on that score.

    His supporters will, of course. I mean, maybe Trump was lying when he said it was because of the Russia investigation, right? I mean, Doubleplusgreat! Well, not lying, exactly, more like bluffing, or using a negotiation tactic. He’s the World’s Greatest Dealmaker. Tripleplusgreat!

    Some days it feels we’re stuck in a nightmare. Other days I’m convinced this is so.

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  7. MarkedMan says:

    The fact that there is documentary evidence that you can lay back to back to show that Trump is incontrovertibly lying will mean nothing to Republicans. Nothing. The modern Republican is not concerned with facts or truth or reality. They exist in a red misted haze of anger and resentment and Trump is their boy and that’s all that matters.

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  8. CSK says:

    The Trumpkins will just triple down on their support for him.

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  9. just nutha says:

    @Kathy: And you are embracing the theory that there are some honest Trump supporters because…

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  10. Modulo Myself says:

    I’ve done dumb things in my life, but I’ve never given 50K to a preacher or a psychic. Trump’s voters not only are those people, but they like to think of themselves as really sharp. Look at the morons who show up here defending him. Trump gets he can drag these people through his s–t and that makes them love him more, because the truth about who they are is too much for them.

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  11. MarkedMan says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    I’ve done dumb things in my life, but I’ve never given 50K to a preacher or a psychic

    You’ve hit the nail on the head. Why is Fox News such a dishonest pile of horsesh*t? Because the product they offer are viewers that are easily taken in by obvious horsesh*t.

    I once heard a Fed talking about the old Nigerian Prince scam, which goes back before email became the defacto delivery method . (The first time I saw it, it was as a paper letter.) He commented that in all those years the quality of the pitch never seemed to improve. But he explained that if the scammers made the pitch less obviously bogus, even just a little bit more convincing, it would attract smarter people, who in turn would eventually catch on. This is bad because although the original mailing is virtually free, every reply requires human work to follow up. It’s better to insure that only real morons respond.

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  12. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    But he explained that if the scammers made the pitch less obviously bogus, even just a little bit more convincing, it would attract smarter people, who in turn would eventually catch on.

    I’ve heard that before. It makes sense, but on the other hand the scam is so well known now, I don’t get how people keep falling for it (I assume some do, and that’s how come you keep seeing those emails).

    There is a similar scam in Mexico, where you get an email, or a phone call (invariably to your cell phone), informing you that you’ve won some drawing or raffle with amazing prizes (cars, TVs, iPhones, cash, etc). All you have to do is get some prepaid cell phone cards, and dictate the numbers to them. It’s small stuff, amounting to little more than a few hundred dollars all told (though that can be tough on some people). Of course you get no prizes and never hear back from them again.

    What amazes me is how people kept falling for this after it was widely exposed on TV, newspapers, radio, etc.

    It quieted for a bit because cell companies stopped making prepaid cards. For prepay these days, you go almost anywhere (Wal Mart, 7-11, drugstores, ATMs) and deposit money to your phone’s account. But then it resurrected with online services prepaid cards .

    I do get it a bit. I’ve heard recordings of the pitch and they’re well done. They list the prizes, too, and they are amazing. It’s easy to begin thinking “Wow! If it were me, I’d sell the luxury car, buy a more modest one and use the extra money for a vacation.” You know, the kind of mental masturbation people engage in when they buy a lotto ticket.

    But if you know it’s a scam, why would you follow along?

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  13. James Pearce says:

    Here’s Trump’s Tweet

    Or, in other words, here’s the latest totally false and completely garbage tweet from our unprofessional president.

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  14. Todd says:

    We (sane, rational people) are not the target audience for Trump’s tweets. It really doesn’t matter that there’s video directly contradicting what he is saying now. It’s almost as if Donald Trump is demonstrating the real life effectiveness of a strategy memorialized in a Shaggy song: https://youtu.be/Qv5fqunQ_4I

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  15. MikeyParks says:

    You posters at this dumpster are using a lot of energy venting our spleen on a closed subject: Trump WON; you LOST. That fact lets me smile at your inane sputtering commentary and take pleasure at your obvious discomfort.

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  16. An Interested Party says:

    Trump WON; you LOST.

    He certainly doesn’t seem very happy for someone who WON…I wonder why that is…

    That fact lets me smile…

    Be sure to smile when Mueller releases his final report and we learn about all of the filthy laundry of your winner…

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  17. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy:

    I’ve heard that before. It makes sense, but on the other hand the scam is so well known now, I don’t get how people keep falling for it

    I’ve read somewhere that the real target is people in early stage Alzheimer’s. Which leads one to wonder if they’ve successfully scammed Trumpsky.

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