I wrote Wednesday that the White House’s explanations for firing James B. Comey were crumbling. Well, President Trump just exploded them.
In one fell swoop in an NBC News interview, Trump totally contradicted his three top spokespeople and offered a polar-opposite version of events than they had provided, on nearly every important count.
After they had spent nearly two days emphasizing that this was a decision Trump arrived at after receiving a memo and recommendation from Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, Trump just blurted out that he was going to fire Comey all along. Basically, he admitted the memo was a ruse and a political ploy.
And he even seemed to suggest he may have fired Comey because of the Russia investigation — which only makes his decision more controversial and runs counter to the suggestions of everyone who has spoken on his behalf in recent days.
Here’s what Trump told NBC News’s Lester Holt (emphasis mine):
HOLT: Did you ask for a recommendation?
TRUMP: What I did is, I was going to fire Comey. My decision. It was not . . .
HOLT: You had made the decision before they came in the room.
TRUMP: I was going to fire Comey. There’s no good time to do it, by the way.
HOLT: Because in your letter, you said, ‘I accepted their recommendation.’ So you had already made the decision.
TRUMP: Oh, I was going to fire regardless of recommendation.
But that’s not what White House press secretary Sean Spicer said this week — not by a long shot.
MARK HALPERIN: Sarah, you’ve suggested in response to David’s questions that the deputy attorney general wrote this report on his own without orders from the White House. That’s correct, right? SANDERS: That’s my understanding, yes. HALPERIN: Okay. So once the report is written, when was it transmitted to the White House? And why was there urgency to act on it without an explanation directly from the president and without a replacement lined up? Why, once the report is written, why was there an urgency to act on it from the president’s point of view? SANDERS: Look, I think when you receive a report that is so clear and a recommendation by someone like the deputy attorney general, you have no choice but to act.