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Two days after Trump’s termination of James Comey, more details about the circumstances of Comey’s departure continue to emerge and the most dramatic highlight from this morning’s news wrap comes from the WaPo, which reports that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein – the man who was instrumental in arranging Comey’s termination – may not stay at the DOJ much longer.
Recall that on Tuesday afternoon the White House released a memo written by the Deputy AG, which contained Rosenstein’s recommendation to sack Comey citing the FBI director’s handling of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private server as a reason for Comey’s dismissal. However, critics say the 52-year-old Harvard graduate, with a reputation as straight-shooting and non-partisan, has been sucked into providing cover for Trump to push Comey out.
The details from WaPo are as follows:
Trump told Vice President Pence and several senior aides — Reince Priebus, Stephen K. Bannon and Donald McGahn, among others — that he was ready to move on Comey. First, though, he wanted to talk with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, his trusted confidant, and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, to whom Comey reported directly. Trump summoned the two of them to the White House for a meeting, according to a person close to the White House.
The president already had decided to fire Comey, according to this person. But in the meeting, several White House officials said Trump gave Sessions and Rosenstein a directive: to explain in writing the case against Comey. The pair quickly fulfilled the boss’s orders, and the next day Trump fired Comey.
Recall that Rosenstein was overseeing the FBI’s probe into election interference because his own boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has recused himself from it after a row over contacts with the Russian ambassador to the US.
And now, as a result of the “alleged scapegoating”, Rosenstein has “threatened to resign after the narrative emerging from the White House on Tuesday evening cast him as a prime mover of the decision to fire Comey and that the president acted only on his recommendation.” With the WaPo once again quoting an unnamed person “close to the White House, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter” one should as usual take this with a grain of salt.
So did President Trump ask Mr Rosenstein specifically to investigate Mr Comey’s conduct? When White House press secretary Sean Spicer was asked, he initially said “it was all him” – of Rosenstein – but then corrected himself. “I guess I shouldn’t say that…. no-one from the White House. That was a DOJ [Department of Justice] decision,” he said.
The deputy attorney general must now decide what to do about growing demands from Democrats – and an unusually direct approach from the New York Times editorial board – to appoint an independent special prosecutor to investigate the Russia allegations.
* * *
Separately, Reuters reports that the anger behind Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday had been building for months, but a turning point came when Comey refused to preview for top Trump aides his planned testimony to a Senate panel, White House officials said.
Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had wanted a heads-up from Comey about what he would say at a May 3 hearing about his handling of an
investigation into former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
When Comey refused, Trump and his aides considered that an act of insubordination and it was one of the catalysts to Trump’s decision this week to fire the FBI director, the officials said.
“It gave the impression that he was no longer capable of carrying out his duties,” one official said. Previews of congressional testimony to superiors are generally considered courteous.
So far Trump has shrugged off the political firestorm he created with Comey’s dismissal as he met with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the Oval Office on Wednesday. Asked by reporters why he fired Comey, Trump said, “He wasn’t doing a good job, very simply. He wasn’t doing a good job.”
However, judging by the media’s reaction which realized it has struck a goldmine in terms of secondary narratives, and Trump’s growing frustration by the Democrats’ reaction, this story is only just getting started. For a direct indicator of Trump’s general level of anxiety, just keep an eye on his Twitter feed.
Perhaps seeking to douse the firestorm that erupted with Comey’s termination, and to ease tensions with FBI employees, all of whom are now potential sources of embarrassing information leaked to the WaPo and NYT, Reuters also reports that Trump is expected to visit FBI headquarters in the next few days, a White House spokeswoman said on Thursday. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, in an interview on CBS News, said Trump would “very likely” make the trip to talk to agents. The New York Times, citing an unnamed official, earlier reported Trump was considering visiting the FBI’s Washington headquarters on Friday but was not expected to discuss the investigation over possible collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia in the 2016 U.S. election.
Via Zero Hedge