Firestorm over Comey's dismissal adds to Trump frustrations

Bruno Cirelli
Mag 19, 2017

But evidently in response to the Times article, Trump tweeted early Friday morning, "James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press".

"The challenge they have is that the president sometimes moves so rapidly that they don't get a team around that gets it organized", said Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and Trump ally.

The president tweeted, "As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with ideal accuracy!"

Trump then went on to suggest scrapping the traditional White House briefings that have existed in some form since the Woodrow Wilson administration nearly a century ago.

"That's not a threat". He simply stated a fact.

The mere mention of tapes-albeit in quotation marks (just like his tweeted accusation that Trump Tower's "wires" had been "tapped" by his predecessor, Barack Obama)-immediately harks back to the days of Watergate and Nixon's presidency ending with a resignation, a nation fraught with trauma and his wave, smile and flight on Marine One.

US presidential historian Michael Beschloss points out that the taping of visitors by US Presidents has not been a routine since Nixon's time.

Congressional Democrats fumed, with House Intelligence Committee vice-chairman Adam Schiff challenging Trump.

"When James Clapper himself, and virtually everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt, says there is no collusion, when does it end?"

In his first interview since firing Comey on Tuesday, Trump appeared to try to underscore that Comey's dismissal was about his performance at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and not about the Russian Federation probe.

Trump sacked Comey on Tuesday stating that it was done on the recommendation of the Attorney General and the deputy Attorney General.

Late Thursday evening, the New York Times posted a story that cited two unnamed Comey associates who flatly rejected Trump's account, saying the ex-FBI director had told them he had been summoned to the White House a week after Trump's inauguration and only reluctantly agreed to the meeting, for fear of compromising the investigation he was overseeing.

"In fact when I made a decision to just do it, I said to myself, I said you know, this Russian Federation thing with Trump and Russian Federation is a made-up story, it's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won", he said.

Trump still thinks he is living in reality television tabloid land where attacking the man in charge of the federal investigation of his campaign for potential collusion with a hostile foreign power is the same as throwing insults at Cher and Rosie O'Donnnell.

The Comey controversy has rattled lawmakers across the political spectrum. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is asking House Speaker Paul Ryan to join in a call for Rosenstein to brief House members, as he will do for senators Thursday.

Rosenstein accepted, although the date was being finalized, a Senate aide said. Comey declined, instead offering "honesty". But Trump on Thursday acknowledged for the first time that the Russian Federation investigation - which he dismissed as a "made-up story" - was also on his mind as he ousted the man overseeing the probe.

"I actually asked him, yes". "Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe said under oath this week, 'There's been no effort to impede our investigation to date.' I take him at his word". McCabe sidestepped the question, saying he could not comment on an ongoing probe.

The FBI typically does not confirm their existence.

Noted legal scholar Laurence Tribe told AFP that if Comey did indeed answer Trump's question, it would violate Department of Justice rules and "would be unthinkably unethical and unprofessional in this situation".

Trump also said that at the dinner, he and Comey discussed whether the United States top cop would continue his 10-year term.

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