President Donald Trump is again pushing the narrative that he did not fire former FBI Director James Comey over the Russia investigation – despite saying exactly that days after the dismissal.
“Not that it matters but I never fired James Comey because of Russia!” Trump claimed on Twitter Thursday morning. “The Corrupt Mainstream Media loves to keep pushing that narrative, but they know it is not true!”
But last May, Trump said he was thinking of “this Russia thing” when he decided to fire Comey.
“And, 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’ve won,’” Trump said of firing Comey in an interview with NBC News.
The decision to fire Comey also matters very greatly to Trump, as it led to the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel in the Russia investigation, which has infuriated the President. A leaked list of questions Mueller would like to ask the President indicates that he is looking into whether Trump obstructed justice in firing Comey, who at the time was leading the investigation into whether there was collusion between Trump associates and Russia during the 2016 election.
Trump also falsely claimed the Comey firing had nothing to do with the Russia investigation back in April, when he posted on Twitter that “slippery James Comey, the worst FBI Director in history, was not fired because of the phony Russia investigation where, by the way, there was NO COLLUSION (except by the Dems)!”
The President’s lawyer in the Russia investigation, Rudy Giuliani, also told Fox News earlier this month that Comey was fired because he would not publicly say Trump was not a target of the FBI investigation.
“He fired Comey because Comey would not, among other things, say that he wasn’t a target of the investigation,” Giuliani said. “He’s entitled to that. Hillary Clinton got that. And he couldn’t get that. So he fired him. And then he said, ‘I’m free of (these) guys.’”
The White House initially cited a recommendation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as the reason for Comey’s firing. The Justice Department’s No. 2 official had sharply criticized Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state.
In his termination letter to Comey, Trump made mention of the Russia investigation, writing, “I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation.”
The former head of the FBI testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee last June and said the issue of whether Trump was under investigation came up three times in his previous conversations with the President. He also wrote in his testimony that he told Trump before and after his January inauguration that he was not under investigation and also said that he had told congressional leaders that the FBI was not “personally investigating President Trump.”
CNN’s Marshall Cohen contributed to this report.