Donald Trump now says he didn't fire James Comey because the FBI director was investigating possible Kremlin ties to his 2016 campaign. The US president's early-morning tweet contradicts previous statements to the press.
Half an hour before the sun rose over Washington, DC, Donald Trump tweeted that he did not fire FBI Director James Comey because of the bureau's investigation into his campaign's possible Kremlin ties.
"Not that it matters but I never fired James Comey because of Russia!" Trump wrote on Twitter. "The Corrupt Mainstream Media loves to keep pushing that narrative, but they know it is not true!"
Trump's tweet contradicts his previous assertions. Days after he fired Comey in 2017, Trump told NBC News that he had "this Russia thing" in mind when he dismissed the director. The New York Times even reported that Trump had told the Kremlin's emissaries in the Oval Office that Comey's dismissal had "taken off" pressure he faced "because of Russia."
A damning report?
Late Wednesday, The New York Times reported the contents of a memo that Andrew McCabe — the FBI's interim director until he, too, was fired — submitted to Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating whether Trump was trying to obstruct justice when he saw Comey off. Citing sources familiar with the discussion, the Times reported that the memo describes a conversation at the Justice Department with Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein.
"In the meeting at the Justice Department, Mr. Rosenstein added a new detail: He said the president had originally asked him to reference Russia in his memo, the people familiar with the conversation said," the Times reported. "Mr. Rosenstein did not elaborate on what Mr. Trump had wanted him to say. To Mr. McCabe, that seemed like possible evidence that Mr. Comey's firing was actually related to the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia."
Kremlin officials deny meddling in the election; Trump says his surrogates did not collude. McCabe and the Justice Department, which oversees the FBI, declined to comment.
Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump's attorneys, however, told the Fox News personality Sean Hannity that "guys with ethical issues" at the Justice Department are targeting the president: "You got a group there, a lynching mob."
mkg/msh (Reuters, AP)