While world leaders prepare to meet Donald Trump’s ridiculous demands, a New York Times report detailing the official White House account of his controversial meeting with Russian officials added yet another wrinkle to the James Comey firing saga. During the Oval Office session with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak of Russia, the president apparently referred to the ousted FBI director as a “nut job” while maintaining he was not under investigation for his (or his campaign’s) possible connections to their country.
Per an official summary of the meeting, which was read to Times reporters by an unidentified administration official, Trump also said that his firing of Comey relieved him of “great pressure”:
“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”
If true, these comments further reinforce the idea that Comey’s firing wasn’t due to his gross negligence in handling the bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. (This was the White House’s initial line of reasoning when they first announced the director’s removal.) Rather, it lends more credibility to Trump wanting to lessen — or cease altogether — the agency’s probes into his administration’s possible collusion with Russian officials throughout the presidential campaign. He’s even said as much in recent interviews, and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein’s many comments have fueled this argument further.
Even Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who gave an official response to the Times, didn’t dispute Trump’s comments per the meeting summary they quoted:
“By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia,” Mr. Spicer said. “The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it. Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations.”
Another White House official briefed on the meeting also defended Trump’s remarks, saying he was using a “negotiating tactic” while describing the “pressure” that Comey’s investigation put on him.
(Via New York Times)