Former FBI director James Comey was reported to have been at odds with President Donald Trump, long before his abrupt dismissal on Tuesday.
The New York Times reports that after Trump had made the widely discredited allegation that President Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower prior to his inauguration, an astonished Comey allegedly told associates that Trump’s behaviour was “outside the realm of normal” and “crazy.”
When Comey even testified before the House Intelligence Committee that the FBI “has no information that supports” Trump’s wiretapping claims, Trump was said to have been livid and grew increasingly vocal about wanting to firing Comey.
Trump was also said to have been annoyed when Comey during a Senate panel said he was “mildly nauseous” about the possibility of him influencing the 2016 presidential election. The Times’ Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush reported that Trump took the comment as a slap-down of his electoral victory.
As the weeks dragged on, Trump ultimately declared there was “something wrong with” Comey, The Times said.
Conflicting reports from the Trump administration were issued immediately after Comey’s dismissal. In Comey’s dismissal letter issued on Tuesday, Trump stated that he concurred with his attorney general and the deputy attorney general’s assessment that Comey was “not able to effectively lead the bureau” after his department’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
The next day, deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the administration was exploring the possibility of firing Comey as early as November.
“He’d lost confidence in Director Comey and, frankly, he’d been considering letting Director Comey go since the day he was elected,” Sanders said at a press conference on Wednesday.
However, Trump’s statements both before and after the election appear to contradict the White House’s accounts.
“The FBI – after discovering new emails, is re-opening their investigation into Hillary Clinton,” Trump said at a rally in October, according to NBC News. “I have great respect for the FBI for righting this wrong.”
In mid-November, Trump said of Comey: “I respect him a lot.”
Comey’s dismissal comes amid reports of the FBI’s “accelerating” investigation into the Trump campaign’s suspected ties to Russia. Comey was also reported to have become increasingly occupied with the investigation — receiving daily updates instead of weekly ones, according to officials cited in a Wall Street Journal report.
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