Long before he was fired last Tuesday, former FBI Director James Comey told colleagues that President Donald Trump was “crazy” and “outside the realm of normal,” according to the New York Times. Trump, however, thought there was “something wrong” with his FBI director who continued to pursue an investigation into alleged links with Russia, despite Trump’s effort to dissuade him and make him pledge personal loyalty.
Comey, according to the New York Times, allegedly called Trump “crazy” and “outside the realm of normal” while expressing astonishment to colleagues about Trump’s wild and unsubstantiated claims back in March that Obama wiretapped his phones at his Trump Tower office during the election campaign period.
Trump, for his part, was enraged when Comey publicly dismissed his allegation that Obama wiretapped his phones. Trump had insisted, despite offering no evidence, that Obama had spied on him during the election campaign period. However, Comey publicly dismissed Trump’s allegation, saying that the FBI was not aware of any illegal surveillance of Trump during the 2016 election campaign period.
Before he eventually fired Comey, Trump had tried on several occasions to obtain assurance from Comey that the FBI was not investigating his alleged links with Russia. During a private dinner, Trump asked Comey to pledge loyalty, but Comey reportedly demurred, according to the New York Times. However, Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt on Thursday that Comey had assured him that he was not being investigated.
Aides revealed that Trump felt aggrieved by Comey’s refusal to defend him when he came under attack following his allegation that Obama had wiretapped his office, according to the New York Times. The sources revealed that Trump became increasingly agitated about Comey’s increasing focus on “this Russia thing.” Trump wanted Comey to focus instead on the recent leaks of classified documents relating to allegations of improper links between Trump and Russia.
The matter came to a head when Comey reportedly directed a request to the office of the deputy attorney general for more resources to pursue investigation into Russia’s alleged election meddling. Trump told close aides that there was “something wrong” with his FBI chief and that it appeared he wanted to become a martyr.
Media reports that Comey was fired after he requested more resources to widen ongoing investigation into the Russia allegations sparked calls from Democrats for a special prosecutor to take over ongoing FBI probe. Democrats claimed that Trump was likely to appoint a loyalist to replace Comey and thus the FBI could not be trusted to conduct impartial investigation after Comey’s exit.
The perception that Trump sacked Comey to stall investigation into his alleged links with Russia was bolstered by recent conflicting narratives emerging from the White House about the reason behind Comey’s dismissal. The White House’s initial explanation was that although Trump had been losing confidence in Comey in the past months, it was a scathing memo released by the deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein that eventually convinced Trump to fire Comey. The memo criticized Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation and recommended his dismissal.
According to Trump aides, Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions advised Trump to dismiss Comey on Monday. Trump announced the dismissal on Tuesday.
But strangely, the White House soon changed its story, claiming the decision to fire Comey was entirely Trump’s and that he had already decided to fire him before he consulted with Rosenstein and Sessions.
“Frankly, he [Trump] has been considering letting Director Comey go since the day he was elected,” White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters, according to CNN.
Trump later confirmed the new narrative when he admitted during Thursday’s interview on NBC News that his decision to fire Comey was influenced by the ongoing FBI Russia probe. Trump complained that Comey persisted in the investigation despite having assured him on three separate occasions that he was not investigating.
“I was going to fire Comey… and in fact when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won,'” Trump blurted out during the NBC News interview.
Analysts said that Trump appeared to have inadvertently incriminated himself by confirming Sen. Dick Durbin’s (D-Ill.) suggestion that Trump might have fired Comey because the FBI “was breathing down the neck of the Trump campaign and their operatives and this was an effort to slow down the investigation.”
[Featured Image by Carolyn Kaster/AP Images]