Ever since White House press Secretary Sean Spicer broke the news to reporters about Comey’s firing on the White House grounds Tuesday night, the Comey narrative has been changed by the hour.
The White House has provided multiple sets of (sometimes contradictory) answers to basic questions about the ouster such as the decision’s impact on the FBI investigation into the Russia allegations, the impact of Assistant AG Rod Rosenstein’s memo on Comey’s career, and the timing of the decision.
Moreover, Trump has contradicted the White House version of the story nearly entirely in an interview on Thursday.
Trump’s staffers and allies provided the American people with contradictory statements on the highly controversial issue, while the White House keeps changing the story.
Rosenstein’s Memo Was Definitely the Trigger
In the first hours following Comey’s ouster, the White House said a memo from Rosenstein convinced the administration the FBI chief should be out. The memo highlighted several instances in which Coey mishandled the Clinton email investigation last year. But Rosenstein never called for the resignation; he only wanted the FBI director to correct his mistakes and never repeat them again.
However, on Tuesday night, White House spokesman Sean Spicer declined the memo was written at Trump’s order as the White House suggested hours earlier. Spicer said the president was made aware of the issues highlighted by the Deputy Attorney General in the memo. Spicer placed the blame on the DOJ at the time.
Other White House aides stuck by that version of the story on Tuesday night. Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump had “no choice but to listen” to the DOJ and terminated Comey.
On Wednesday morning, Vice Presidnet Mike Pence confirmed Sanders and Spicer’s story. Pence praised Trump for his “strong leadership” in his decision to oust Comey for the sake of the American people’s “security”. Pence too said the memo was Rosenstein’s work.
White House Flip Flops on the Original Version of the Story
Meanwhile, the story started to gradually change. Some of Trump’s aides told the press Trump had weighed in on the possibility to sack Comey long ago. The DOJ’s memo was the last straw.
On Wednesday afternoon, Sanders said the president thought about the dismissal ever since the day he was elected. Sanders added that there are new factors that led to Comey’s abrupt termination such as the leaks coming from the FBI.
The President had lost confidence in Comey from the day he was elected,
the White House Deputy Press Secretary said Wednesday.
She also said that the moment Comey recommended no charges against Clinton, Trump made up his mind. Sanders described Comey’s actions as “atrocities” committed against the DOJ leadership.
Sanders also said that the inaccuracies in Comey’s May 3 testimony led to his dismissal. The FBI corrected those errors 30 minutes before its chief was handed the pink slip. Sanders said that those errors were the “final piece” that convinced Trump to take the decision. She maintained the Rosenstein’s memo story during that press conference.
It was ‘My Decision’
On Thursday, however, Trump blew up the White House’ entire narrative on Comey when he confessed to NBC News’ Lester Holt that it was his decision.
I was going to fire Comey. My decision. I was going to fire Comey,
the president told Holt.
Image Source: Washington Post