Donald Trump has been president for only a little more than one hundred days, and his administration has already had to deal with plenty of scandals and allegations of corruption. One of the biggest came recently, when Trump fired James Comey, director of the FBI. In initial announcements, the White House claimed Comey’s firing came on the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and related to his handling of the investigation of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s emails last fall. However, a recent interview held between Trump and NBC News has put massive holes in the White House’s story.
Sitting down with NBC Nightly News host Lester Holt, Trump offered a version of events that differed greatly from what the White House had said. According to Trump, he had fired Comey because of the investigation he was conducting regarding allegations that Russia had hacked the election in Trump’s favor. He also disputed the notion that he had fired Comey based on Rosenstein’s recommendation.
“I was going to fire Comey,” Trump said, maintaining that he would fire Comey “regardless of recommendation.”
Trump said that Comey made it clear to him that he was not under investigation. However, Holt made reference to Comey’s “sworn testimony” about the allegations of Trump’s campaign and the Russian government possibly conspiring together. In the interview, Trump did make it seem very likely that Comey’s Russian investigation was a huge influence on his decision.
“When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story,'” Trump said.
The firing of Comey has been a source of significant discussion and speculation as to what it means for the Trump administration and the federal government. Opponents of Trump have seen it as a very poorly-veiled attempt to deflect Trump and his administration from accusations of wrongdoing. However, this may prove to backfire tremendously, as suspicions have now been raised even further. If Trump was not worried about Comey finding out anything particularly damaging, then he would not have fired him in the first place.
Others see this as an exercise of executive power that falls into the realm of dictators. Trump’s firing of Comey seems to not be based on competence, but rather a desire to stop anyone who might be in his way. While he might have the authority to make such decisions, it does set a troubling precedent.
This is unlikely to be Trump’s first dispute that results in the firing of a major public figure. By terminating Comey, Trump has not deflected attention from his scandals. Rather, he has shone an even bigger light on them. He might be able to do sufficient damage control or influence the news in a way that distracts from this, but it’s unlikely that this story will be forgotten anytime soon. For the Trump administration, they clearly need to do a better job of communicating with the president, as the differing accounts for a story as a major as this offers no help whatsoever in terms of them being a trustworthy administration.