"Looks he's a a showboat, he's a grand-stander, the FBI has been in turmoil. You know that, I know that. Everybody knows that. You take a look at the FBI a year ago, it was in virtual turmoil. Less than a year ago, it hasn't recovered from that," exclaims President Trump about Comey during an interview with NBC News' Lester Holt.
Which is odd because Andrew McCabe just denied any turmoil in The FBI...
Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe: "I don't believe there is a crisis of confidence in the leadership of the FBI." pic.twitter.com/3GgHHtpAFi— Zach Schurmann (@zachschurmann) May 11, 2017
But in what was the biggest surprise of the interview, Trump then added that he was going to fire FBI Director James Comey "regardless" of what the Justice Department recommended, contradicting what the White House said Wednesday, when after the firing it said Trump “acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”
In Comey’s dismissal letter, Trump wrote: “I have received the attached letters from Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General of the United States recommending your dismissal as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I have accepted their recommendation and you are hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately.”
With today's interview, Trump has thus blown the prior narrative apart, as well as whatever "3rd person" cover he had for terminating Comey, and immediately giving an opening for his opponents to attack him on motive, something which Clinton's former press secretary Brian Fallon immediately did on Twitter:
It is now official: Comey's handling of the Clinton case was a pretext, and not the true basis, for the firing.https://t.co/L4uBxFzn8N— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) May 11, 2017
Trump also said he had dinner with Comey "because he wanted to stay on [as FBI Director] during which Trump told Comey he would consider keeping him on but said "I'll see what happens." Trump said, "I think he asked for dinner." Trump then asked Comey during the dinner and on two phone calls (one made by Trump, one made by Comey) whether he was under investigation, and Comey said he was not.
“We had a very nice dinner and at that time he told me you’re not under investigation,” Trump said. In a subsequent phone call, Trump said, "I actually asked him. He said, ‘you are not under investigation.”’
Trump said he already knew he wasn’t under investigation. "When you’re under investigation you’re given all sorts of documents,” he said.
And here is the clip...
Trump on Comey: "He's a grandstander, a showboat" it was my decision pic.twitter.com/a7sMG6hBAv— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) May 11, 2017