Trump Tells Russians Comey Ouster Eased Pressure on Probe
- Author: Leroy Wright May 20, 2017,
May 20, 2017, 10:15
Asked about the Times report, Spicer said of the former FBI chief, "by grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia's actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russian Federation".
The FBI's investigation seeks to determine whether and to what extent Trump associates were in contact with Kremlin operatives, what business dealings they might have had in Russian Federation, and whether they in any way facilitated the hacking and publishing of Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's emails during the presidential campaign. "Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations".
Comey's October 28, 2016 letter to the FBI announcing he was reopening the investigation "flouted rules and deeply ingrained traditions", and guaranteed some people would question the FBI's role in the United States presidential election, Rosenstein continued. "He was insane, a real nut job".
"I thought the July 5 press conference was profoundly wrong and unfair both to the Department of Justice and Secretary Clinton", said Rosenstein, adding, "It violated deeply ingrained rules and traditions, and it guaranteed that some people would accuse the Federal Bureau of Investigation of interfering in the election".
Public approval of Trump has dropped to its lowest level since his inauguration, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday.
'I informed the senior attorney that the president was going to remove Director Comey, that I was writing a memorandum to the attorney general summarizing my own concerns and that I wanted to confirm that everything in my memorandum was accurate, ' Rosenstein said.
The new headlines were a fresh indication that Trump would not be able to change the subject from what appears to be an intensifying investigation reaching toward the president and his inner circle.
And there's more trouble for the White House on the horizon.
"Moreover, I consulted my staff and acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and none of them recalls such a request".
According to anonymous sources close to the White House, the administration has begun reviewing an obscure ethics rule in the Code of Federal Regulations, which could prevent Robert Mueller, the newly appointed special counsel, from investigating anyone who was a client of his law firm - which includes President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and former campaign manager Paul Manafort.
At the time, the White House distributed the memo written by Rosenstein, which was dated May 9. "I stand by it", Rosenstein said in his two separate briefings on Comey's firing, one to the Senate yesterday and the other to the House today. In an interview two days after the firing, Trump told NBC he had been planning to terminate Comey regardless and was thinking of Russian Federation when he made that decision. The White House has said the firing was unrelated to the FBI's Russian Federation investigation.
Former FBI Director James Comey will testify publicly before the Senate intelligence committee, committee leaders announced Friday.
When asked about the Justice Department appointing Mueller as Special Counsel, the President deflected the question.
It's unclear how the White House believes Comey politicized the case, but he testified publicly that the probe was ongoing a week before he was sacked.
Former FBI Director Robert Mueller was named Special Counsel for the Russian Federation investigation on Wednesday.