President Trump fired his FBI director because Comey mishandled the Clinton email investigation. No, it was because Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recommended it. No, it was because of Comey’s “showboating.” No, it was really Russia.
Listening to the White House spin is dizzying. It’s also not helpful to the president’s cause.
In typical stream-of-consciousness Trump fashion, the president contradicted himself, his narrative, and the facts, all in one interview with NBC News.
From the Washington Post:
Recounting his decision to dismiss Comey, Trump told NBC News, “In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘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 have won.’”
No. The Russia thing is not a made up story. It’s a significant investigation that should concern the president. Trump is way, way too glib about blaming what the FBI and Congress considers to be a dead serious national issue on partisan politics.
Later in the same interview, Trump said he had no intention of trying to stop or hinder the FBI’s Russia probe, which is examining whether any Trump associates coordinated with Russians to influence the election. Trump also said he wants the probe “to be absolutely done properly.”
Now this makes me angry. Trump can say that the Russia thing is a made up political excuse for Clinton’s loss, or he can say he wants a thorough investigation, but he can’t say both things, because the first claim makes the second impossible.
If Trump believes there’s nothing to investigate, then he isn’t going to take an investigation seriously. If he’s going to take an investigation seriously, or expect anyone else to take it seriously, he can’t claim it’s a political hit job. But he said both things–in the same interview.
Trump’s absurd response left his own communications crew totally in the dust, despite what Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
“Nobody was left in the dark,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the principal deputy White House press secretary, insisted at Thursday’s press briefing. She added, “It was a quick-moving process. We took the information we had as best we had it, and got it out to the American people as quickly as we could.”
Quick-moving? Comey’s been investigating the Russia angle for 10 months, and he made his first press conference regarding Clinton’s emails last July. This is not a fluid situation, other than Trump’s own three-card-Monte on Russia.
I think Trump had every reason to dismiss Comey, but now I’m not so sure he chose the right reason. (Russia is not the right reason, in case you’re asking.)
In fact, Trump is getting more and more Nixonian every day. His best course is to just shut up and let the investigation proceed and complete. The more he talks, the more it looks like he’s got something to cover up.
Erick even used the “i” word–impeachment–if Trump decides to fire Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. Even Trump, who’s so far been immune to shock, has a third rail. Now that’s he’s talked himself in contradictory circles, the only move that he has left is to support the FBI, Congress, and even a special prosecutor to close this Russia investigation.
Any further move to block progress on Russia will not end well.