In a preview clip for NBC’s Lester Holt interview of President Donald Trump, which will air tonight, Trump essentially destroys the entire case his communications team has been making for days. This, you will recall, was the original timeline: on Tuesday, Trump was provided with a memo by deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein recommending the firing of FBI director James Comey for his botched execution of the Hillary Clinton email investigation; Trump received a recommendation from Attorney General Jeff Sessions as well; Trump then fired Comey on the basis of those recommendations. Kellyanne Conway appeared on national television to inform Americans that nobody could question Trump’s timing on the firing, even though the events at issue had occurred months ago, and Comey was in the midst of investigating connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
On Thursday, Trump blew up that timeline.
TRUMP says he was going to fire Comey regardless of recommendation—says he asked Comey if he was under investigation https://t.co/TKDralbLzJ
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) May 11, 2017
TRUMP: He’s a showboat, he’s a grandstander. The FBI has been in turmoil. You know that, I know that, everybody knows that. You take a look at the FBI a year ago, it was in virtual turmoil, less than a year ago. It hasn’t recovered from that.
HOLT: Monday you met with deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein. Did you ask for a recommendation?
TRUMP: What I did is, I was going to fire Comey, my decision –
HOLT: You had made the decision before they came into the room.
TRUMP: I was going to fire Comey. There’s no good time to do it, by the way.
HOLT: Because in your letter, you said “I accepted their recommendation,” so you had already made the decision.
TRUMP: Oh, I was going to fire regardless of recommendation. He made a recommendation, he’s highly respected, very good guy, very smart guy, the Democrats like him, the Republicans like him, he made a recommendation, but regardless of recommendation I was going to fire him.
There goes the shoddy cover of Rosenstein’s letter. Trump wanted Comey gone, solicited a letter from Rosenstein, and Rosenstein obliged. The White House then tried to pin the firing on Rosenstein before that excuse collapsed. And Trump himself says so. Ugh.