Deputy AG led Comey probe, Spicer says
On Tuesday night, White House press secretary Sean Spicer held an impromptu press conference, standing in near darkness between two tall shrubs, with more than a dozen reporters closely gathered around him. For 10 minutes, he responded to a flurry of questions, vacillating between lighthearted asides and clear frustration with getting the same questions over and over again.
The first question: Did the president direct Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to conduct a probe of FBI Director James Comey?
As Spicer tells it, Rosenstein was confirmed about two weeks ago and independently took on this issue so the president was not aware of the probe until he received a memo from Rosenstein on Tuesday, along with a letter from Attorney General Jeff Sessions recommending that Comey be fired. The president then swiftly decided to follow the recommendation, notifying the FBI via email around 5 p.m. and in a letter delivered to the FBI by the president’s longtime bodyguard. At the same time, the president personally called congressional leaders to let them know his decision. Comey learned the news from media reports.
“It was all him,” Spicer said of Rosenstein.
Spicer said he was not aware of any of Rosenstein’s superiors who might have directed him to do this — although he then said that such questions should be directed to Justice officials, not him.
Spicer repeatedly batted down bipartisan calls that an independent prosecutor be assigned to handle the investigation into ties between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials, saying that the current system is working just fine.
Exactly 10 minutes after he started answering questions, Spicer stopped.
“Anyway,” Spicer said abruptly, “thank you, guys.”