Trump: I was go­ing to fire Comey even with­out rec­om­men­da­tion

Cape Breton Post - - World -

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said Thurs­day he would have fired FBI Direc­tor James Comey even with­out the rec­om­men­da­tion from his top po­lit­i­cal ap­pointees at the Jus­tice Depart­ment, con­tra­dict­ing ear­lier White House ac­counts.

He in­sisted anew that Comey had told him di­rectly three sep­a­rate times that he per­son­ally was not un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“I was go­ing to fire Comey,” Trump said in an in­ter­view with NBC. The White House and Vice-Pres­i­dent Mike Pence have said the pres­i­dent acted on the rec­om­men­da­tion of At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions and Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral Rod Rosen­stein.

“Re­gard­less of rec­om­men­da­tion I was go­ing to fire Comey,” Trump said.

Trump’s com­ments came amid in­creased crit­i­cism of the White House’s evolv­ing ex­pla­na­tion of the firing.

In pub­lic tes­ti­mony Thurs­day, the act­ing FBI direc­tor, An­drew McCabe, con­tra­dicted White House state­ments about why Comey was dis­missed, par­tic­u­larly the as­ser­tion that Comey had lost the con­fi­dence of the rank and file of the FBI.

“That is not ac­cu­rate,” McCabe said in re­sponse to a sen­a­tor’s ques­tion. “I can tell you also that Direc­tor Comey en­joyed broad sup­port within the FBI and still does to this day.”

In the NBC in­ter­view, Trump re­peated his as­ser­tion that Comey three times as­sured

him he was not un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“He said it once at din­ner, and then he said it twice dur­ing phone calls,” Trump said.

McCabe told sen­a­tors it is not stan­dard FBI prac­tice to tell some­one he or she is or isn’t un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion. He would not com­ment on con­ver­sa­tions be­tween Trump and the FBI direc­tor.

The White House re­fused Wed­nes­day to pro­vide any ev­i­dence or greater de­tail. For­mer FBI agents said such a state­ment by the direc­tor would be all but un­think­able.

The dra­matic firing of Comey

has left the fate of the FBI’s probe into Rus­sia’s elec­tion med­dling and pos­si­ble ties to the Trump cam­paign deeply un­cer­tain. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion has shad­owed Trump from the out­set of his pres­i­dency, though he’s de­nied any ties to Rus­sia or knowl­edge of any cam­paign co-or­di­na­tion with Moscow.

McCabe called the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion “highly sig­nif­i­cant” — another con­tra­dic­tion of the White House por­trayal — and as­sured sen­a­tors Comey’s firing will not hin­der it. He promised he would tol­er­ate no in­ter­fer­ence from the White

House and would not pro­vide the ad­min­is­tra­tion with up­dates on its progress.

“You can­not stop the men and women of the FBI from do­ing the right thing,” he de­clared. He said there has been no in­ter­fer­ence so far.

Days be­fore he was fired, Comey re­quested more re­sources to pur­sue his in­ves­ti­ga­tion, U.S. of­fi­cials have said, fu­el­ing con­cerns that Trump was try­ing to un­der­mine a probe that could threaten his pres­i­dency. McCabe said he was not aware of any such re­quest and said the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion is ad­e­quately re­sourced.

AP PHOTO

A pro­tester waves a sign out­side of the of­fices of Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein, D-Calif., Wed­nes­day, May 10, 2017, in San Fran­cisco. Dozens of pro­test­ers chanted slo­gans out­side of Fe­in­stein’s of­fice in protest of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s firing of FBI direc­tor James Comey.

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