Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey was fired on Tuesday because his investigation into the ties between Donald Trump and Russia got "uncomfortably close" to exposing Trump, according to a new report published late Tuesday night by the Daily Beast.
When Trump suddenly and unexpectedly fired Comey late Tuesday afternoon, the administration issued a statement claiming that Comey was fired due to his mishandling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, which took place last year and culminated in Comey's now-infamous letter to Congress just two weeks before the presidential election. At that time, Comey reopened the Clinton case, despite announcing that it had been closed, and Clinton exonerated, three months earlier.
At the time, Trump publicly and repeatedly praised Comey, saying that "it took guts" for the then-FBI director to issue the letter — a letter that badly damaged Clinton in the polls and, according to experts who have analyzed its impact, cost her the 2016 presidential election.
But Comey, as he revealed at a House Intelligence Committee hearing in March, was leading an FBI investigation into the Trump campaign and its possible collusion with Russian officials and intelligence agents in their effort to interfere in the election and ensure that Trump won the presidency.
Few have accepted Trump's stated rationale for firing Comey, with Democrats calling it "absurd." Even top Republicans say that it "raises questions" to cite the months-old Clinton case as a reason to fire Comey at this point in time.
According to the Daily Beast, the real reason Comey was fired is simple — he was leading the investigation that was coming close to exposing Trump's alleged collusion with Russia.
"Basically [Trump] is saying, 'I'm firing Comey for doing the things that got me elected because I'm afraid people are going to find out who did the rest of the things to get me elected,'" a "senior law-enforcement official" speaking to Daily Beast reporter Michael Daly said, scoffing at the stated Clinton-related rationale.
"If that's the case, then why the f*** did you wait five-and-a-half months to fire him? The real reason is he's inching closer to Trump. He's getting uncomfortably close to people who are uncomfortably close," the official told the site.
In fact, also on Tuesday, CNN revealed that a widely ridiculed online report of a grand jury investigating the Trump Russia connections was, in fact, true. A federal grand jury in Virginia has actually issued subpoenas to business associates of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced out by Trump in February almost three weeks after the Justice Department warned the administration that Flynn might be a Russian spy.
And in another bizarre twist to the Comey firing story, on Wednesday, Trump met at the White House with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov — the man named in the "Steele Dossier" as the original supervisor of the covert Russian operation to tilt the U.S. election to Trump.
The "Steele Dossier" is an intelligence report detailing Trump's alleged Russia connections, compiled privately by former British spy Christopher Steele and published by Buzzfeed in January. The dossier became best known for the allegation that on a 2013 visit to Moscow, Trump hired Russian prostitutes to perform a "golden shower" urination show for his pleasure.
At least some claims made in the dossier have been independently verified by U.S. investigators, while others have not yet been corroborated.
Lavrov made a joke about Comey's firing during an appearance with Tillerson Wednesday morning, as seen in the video below.
According to a report in Politico Magazine late Tuesday, Trump had been searching for a reason to fire Comey for at least a week and often flew into a rage while watching television news coverage of Comey's Russia investigation.
[Featured Image by Andrew Harrer/Getty Images]