When President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, White House representatives said that the decision was made based off the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In a memo that was sent to President Trump, Rosenstein went as far as to say that Comey had done “substantial damage” to the FBI’s reputation by mishandling the probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
Both Vice President Mike Pence and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer corroborated that President Trump was going off of the recommendation of Sessions and Rosenstein. And when Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked if the president had already decided to fire Comey prior to the recommendation, she said no.
But in an interview with NBC on Thursday, President Trump gave an entirely different answer as to when—and why—he decided to fire Comey.
“I was going to fire regardless of the recommendation,” Trump stated.
It was that statement that sent the media into a whirlwind of confusion. First, White House officials said that Trump had made the decision based off the recommendation provided by Rosenstein and Sessions. Then, Trump said that he had already made the decision to fire Comey with or without their recommendation.
So which is it?
Of course, this isn’t the only inconsistency that’s taken place. White House officials also said that Comey had “lost the confidence” of his staff. But fill-in FBI Director Andrew McCabe said that Comey was a well-respected leader.
“Director Comey enjoyed broad support within the FBI and still does to this day,” McCabe said at an Intelligence Committee hearing. “I can confidently tell you that the vast majority of employees enjoyed a deep and positive connection to Director Comey.”
Later on, McCabe called the Trump-Russia probe a “highly significant investigation” which is in direct contrast to Huckabee Sanders’ comment about it being one of the “smallest things” the FBI has on their plate.
The whole debacle is shaping up to be one of the worst PR disasters the White House has even seen.