Donald Trump contradicts his own White House about James Comey firing timeline

Trump makes liars of his staff — even Vice President Mike Pence

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published May 11, 2017 5:55PM (EDT)

Donald Trump; Lester Holt   (NBC)
Donald Trump; Lester Holt (NBC)

In a new interview, President Donald Trump effectively contradicted days' worth of sloppy spin from his White House communication team about the firing of former FBI director James Comey.

"Regardless of the recommendation I was going to fire Comey," Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt, in his first televised interview since suddenly axing Comey late Tuesday. The former FBI director was, of course, tasked with leading the agency’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Trump’s claim contradicts the initial version of events presented by the White House — including Vice President Mike Pence.

On Wednesday, Pence said the president “accepted” the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who wrote a two-page memo that the White House used to justify Comey’s firing.

But calling Comey a “showboat” and “grandstander,” Trump completely threw away the sloppily crafted timeline spun by his administration.

“There's no good time to do it, by the way," Trump said of firing an FBI director. Comey was only the second FBI director fired in modern history. “The FBI has been in turmoil. You know that. I know that. Everybody knows that,” the president insisted on Thursday.

However, contrary to the president's claim, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe testified on Capitol Hill Thursday "that Director Comey enjoyed broad support within the FBI and still does.”

Trump also shockingly admitted that he improperly checked with Comey on the status of the FBI investigation into Russia and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

Trump said that during a dinner about Comey’s future, the FBI director told him "you are not under investigation."

"If it's possible, would you let me know, am I under investigation?" Trump said he asked Comey. "He said, 'You are not under investigation.'"


By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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