According to White House officials, the tension between Trump and FBI Director James Comey had been escalating for months prior to Comey’s firing on Tuesday. After consistently falling out of favor with Trump, the last straw for Trump was when Comey refused to preview for top Trump aides his planned testimony, which was set to be given to a Senate panel.
Trump, deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions had reached out to Comey with the intention of attaining a heads up from the then-FBI Director regarding what he planned to say at a May 3rd hearing. This hearing would focus on his handling of an investigation into the private email server use of former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
However, when Comey refused to collaborate, Trump and his aides deemed the act one of insubordination, quickly making it one of the catalyzing factors which prompted Trump’s choice to fire the FBI director this week, according to officials.
“It gave the impression that he was no longer capable of carrying out his duties,” one official explained. Previews of congressional testimony to higher-ups are typically considered courteous.
Comey, who partook in a four-hour testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, declared that it prompted him to feel “mildly nauseous” upon knowing that his choice to make public his resurrecting of an investigation into Clinton’s management of classified information may have impacted the turnout of the November 8th presidential election. Regardless, Comey denied having any regrets and asserted that he would make the same decision if given the chance.
Trump’s seemingly spontaneous firing of Comey came as a surprise to Washington and submerged Trump further into a controversy regarding the alleged ties of his campaign with Russia—polemic suppositions which have shadowed his ascension to power since the initial days of his presidency.
Democrats accused the Republican president of firing Comey in an attempt to destabilize the further probe of the FBI into the claims that Russian efforts were, at least, attempted in interfering in the 2016 US election and potentially conspiring in conjunction with certain members of the Trump campaign. As a result of such, Democrats even called for an independent investigation to ensure that these allegations are properly addressed. Even some of Trump’s fellow Republicans have classified his dismissal of Comey as concerning.
The Trump administration revealed on Tuesday that Comey was allegedly fired due to his handling of the Clinton email probe.
Prior to ridding himself of Comey, Trump had openly expressed dissatisfaction with the FBI and congressional probes into his relationship with Russia. Moscow has, unsurprisingly, consistently refuted any claims that it meddles in the 2016 election and, equally predictably, the Trump administration has negated any sort of collaboration with Russia.
A former Trump advisor has asserted that Trump was also unhappy with Comey as he never offered a public exoneration of Trump in relation to the FBI probe into the relationship between the Russian ambassador to Washington, Sergei Kislyak, and Trump campaign advisors last year.
According to this same former advisor, it is highly probable that Comey’s Senate testimony regarding the Clinton emails merely strengthened the opinion of Trump that “Comey was against him.”
“He regretted what he did to Hillary but not what he did to Trump,” the former Trump adviser affirmed regarding the situation of Comey.
Clinton has declared that the choice of Comey to announce the renewed inquiry into her email situation in the days preceding the election was probably a factor that propagated her loss to Trump.
Aides maintain that Trump worked rapidly after receiving a recommendation from Rosenstein this past Monday to fire Comey. Rosenstein commenced his review of the situation at the FBI soon after taking office just two weeks ago.
Trump’s action was so quick that even his White House staff, who has become used to his spur-of-the-moment methods, was shocked. Surprised aides struggled to compile a strategy to explain what had happened.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer ended up having to inform reporters on the action in the dark on Tuesday night, close to a patch of bushes just steps away from the West Wing.
As of the present, Comey, who was meeting with FBI employees in Los Angeles on Tuesday and only returned later to Washington, has not yet released any statements to the public regarding his being fired.
Despite his administration’s hasty attempts at justifying the decision to the public, many uncertainties and unanswered questions remain regarding what exactly prompted Trump to act so quickly.
Two former senior officials of the Justice Department interjected that it made little sense to fire Comey while the Justice Department Inspector General was in the midst of carrying out a review of the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation.
“I take Rod (Rosenstein) at his word that be believed everything in that memo but he must know that it’s going to be used as a fig leaf to fire Comey,” one former official opined.
US Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is the lead Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, revealed in a statement to reporters that it was her “understanding” that Comey had been procuring additional resources to undertake his investigation into the complicated Russia polemic.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders asserted that Trump had contemplated getting rid of Comey as soon as he took office on January 20th, but had previously opted to allow him to retain his position.
Trump quickly disregarded the political chaos he has prompted in his spontaneous dismissal of Comey’s dismissal as he met with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the Oval Office this past Wednesday.
When questioned by reporters about why he chose to fire Comey, Trump said, “He wasn’t doing a good job, very simply. He wasn’t doing a good job.”
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