When Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday evening, the stated reason in the letter submitted by the deputy Attorney General was Comey’s much-criticized handling of an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state.
However, according to various other sources, notably Politico, Trump had grown “enraged” over the last few weeks by the ongoing investigation into alleged Russian collaboration and repeatedly asked aids when the inquiry would end. Contrary to the narrative released from the White House Tuesday night, the firing was Trump’s decision and the DOJ letters recommending dismissal were written to give the White House cover. More from the source:
President Donald Trump weighed firing his FBI director for more than a week. When he finally pulled the trigger Tuesday afternoon, he didn’t call James Comey. He sent his longtime private security guard to deliver the termination letter in a manila folder to FBI headquarters.
He had grown enraged by the Russia investigation, two advisers said, frustrated by his inability to control the mushrooming narrative around Russia. He repeatedly asked aides why the Russia investigation wouldn’t disappear and demanded they speak out for him. He would sometimes scream at television clips about the probe, one adviser said.
Trump had grown angry with the Russia investigation — particularly Comey admitting in front of the Senate that the FBI was investigating his campaign — and that the FBI director wouldn’t support his claims that President Barack Obama had tapped his phones in Trump Tower.
A separate report from the Wapo also focuses on this angle:
Several current and former officials said the relationship between the White House and the FBI had been strained for months, in part because administration officials were pressuring Comey to more aggressively pursue leak investigations over disclosures that embarrassed the White House and raised questions about ties with Russia.
That pressure was described as conversational challenges to FBI leadership to pursue the source of leaks seen as damaging to the administration, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. Although the FBI is investigating disclosures of classified information, the bureau has resisted calls to prioritize leak investigations over the Russia matter, or probe matters that did not involve leaks of classified or otherwise sensitive information, the officials said.
As we said yesterday in our kneejerk reaction to the firing, by ousting the FBI director investigating his campaign and associates, Trump added more fuel to the fire he is furiously trying to contain — and he was quickly criticized by a chorus of Republicans and Democrats. “The timing of this firing was very troubling,” said Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican.
Trump’s firing of the high-profile FBI director on the 110th day since taking office marked another sudden turn for an administration that has fired its acting attorney general, national security adviser and now its FBI director, who Trump had praised until recent weeks and even blew a kiss to during a January appearance. The news stunned Comey, who saw his dismissal on TV while speaking inside the FBI office in Los Angeles. It startled all but the uppermost ring of White House advisers, who said grumbling about Comey hadn’t dominated their own morning senior staff meetings. Other top officials learned just before it happened and were unaware he was considering firing Comey. “Nobody really knew,” one senior White House official said. “Our phones all buzzed and people said, What?”
To be sure, bipartisan criticism of Comey had mounted since last summer after his lengthy statement outlining why he was closing the investigation into Clinton’s private email server. And, in retrospect, based on Trump’s latest tweets this morning, the president had anticipated Democrats to support his decision to terminate Comey who had been explicitly listed as one of two catalysts why Hillary Clinton lost the election. Instead, as has been observed over the past 12 hours, the reaction has been a firestorm of complaints, and instead Trump now finds himself having to engage in even more damage control.