Because Donald Trump’s style of governance is to blurt out a decree, which almost aways leaves his minions scrambling to justify said decree with little to no warning about what the hell just happened, it really hasn’t been a surprise that the official White House story on firing FBI Director James Comey has “evolved” in the past 48 hours. It also isn’t a surprise that, in the immediate aftermath, numerous contradictory reports have emerged that heavily conflict with the White House’s narrative.
In fact, just this morning, Acting Director Andrew McCabe torpedoed the official story from Trump spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders who claimed the FBI had lost confidence in Comey.
From Mother Jones:
At a hearing held by the Senate intelligence committee the following day, Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) asked McCabe whether Sanders’ assertion about the FBI rank and file’s attitude toward Comey was a fair and accurate assessment.
McCabe minced no words: “That is not accurate. I can tell you also that Director Comey enjoyed broad support within the FBI and still does to this day. We are a large organization. We are 36,500 people across this country, across this globe. We have a diversity of opinions about many things, but I can confidently tell you that the majority, the vast majority of FBI employees enjoyed a deep and positive connection to Director Comey.” McCabe added that it had been a great honor and privilege to work with Comey.
For the record, that “still does to this day” is almost certainly a warning shot across Trump’s orange brow. And since we’re talking about McCabe, so was this particular exchange regarding Sanders’ claim that the FBI’s Russia investigation is “the smallest things that they’ve got going on their plate.” (Where the hell does Trump find these people? Oh, right. America.)
Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) asked McCabe if the Russia probe is indeed one of the “smallest things” the FBI was handling. McCabe didn’t miss a beat: “Sir, we consider it to be a highly significant investigation.”
King wanted to drive home this point. “So you would not characterize it as one of the smallest things you’re engaged in?” he asked.
“I would not,” McCabe replied.
But the biggest contradiction to the White House narrative came from Trump himself who couldn’t resist going on TV and thinking he actually has the intellectual acumen to talk his way out of his biggest shitstorm yet.
From Vox (emphasis mine):
On Thursday, Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt that “regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.”
It’s a stunning reversal. It’s tantamount to an official admission that the original explanation the Trump administration gave for Comey’s firing — which presented a three-page memo from Deputy AG Rosenstein, about Comey’s handling of the 2016 investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state, as the justification for the move — was a lie.
Just to make it abundantly clear, as Vox notes, the official narrative started with Spicer who claimed firing Comey was “not from the White House” and was a “DOJ decision.” Early Wednesday, Mike Pence put the blame on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and again implied that Trump had nothing to do with it. Later, Sarah Huckabee Sanders would throw Pence under the bus by altering the narrative to Trump was thinking about firing Comey, but Rosenstein and Sessions were the final hammer. And now we have Trump himself confirming reports he’s been nursing a personal grudge towards Comey and was going to fire him all along because of it. Which sure sounds a hell of lot like obstruction of justice.
As for the nature of that grudge, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to read Trump’s desperate flailings. For example, expecting the American people (who didn’t vote for him) to actually believe the following conversation took place.
“I actually asked him” if I were under investigation, Trump said, noting that he spoke with Comey once over dinner and twice by phone.
“I said, if it’s possible would you let me know, ‘Am I under investigation?’ He said, ‘You are not under investigation.'”
“I know I’m not under investigation,” Trump told Holt during the 31-minute White House interview.
Fortunately, NBC News was in the mood to practice some journalism:
It would be highly unusual for someone who might be the focus of an FBI probe to ask whether he was under investigation and to be directly told by the FBI director that he was not.
“I know I’m not under investigation.” Oh, word? Well, in that case, I know I’m Batman. How is this asshole our president? Seriously.