For almost twenty-four hours, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s two-page “report” on James Comey stood as the preferred White House excuse for why FBI Director Comey was fired. Whether it was Sean Spicer, Sarah Sanders, Hope Hicks, or Mike Pence, Trump surrogates rushed out to say that, yes, Donald Trump really was firing James Comey over his treatment of Hillary Clinton during the email investigation and—notably—that the firing had “nothing to do with the Russia investigation.”
That explanation lasted until the next day, when Donald Trump agreed to give an interview and immediately firebombed his own PR team by admitting that he had decided to fire Comey before ever bringing Rosenstein and AG Jefferson Sessions to the White House. And that the reason behind Comey’s dismissal was how irritated Trump had become over … the Russia investigation. That admission makes this note distributed by the Justice Department on Friday seem a bit odd.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has told members of Congress he stands by a memo he wrote that preceded the president’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.
This can’t mean that Rosenstein believes that his memo really was the reason that Trump dismissed Director Comey, because Trump has already admitted otherwise. Does it mean that Rosenstein himself really does believe that Comey was too mean to Hillary? Maybe. However, there’s also this information.
In the remarks, Rosenstein said he learned a day before Comey’s firing that Trump wanted to dismiss him. He says he thought that move was appropriate and produced a memo summarizing what he said were his “longstanding concerns” over Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation.
Rosenstein admits now that he knew Trump was already determined to fire the FBI director. His report wasn’t created for Trump’s review. It was created to provide cover.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote the memo the president initially cited as justification for firing FBI Director James Comey. Michigan Republican Rep. Dave Trott says lawmakers pressed Rosenstein on the memo but he declined to respond.
Trump told Sessions and Rosenstein he wanted to fire Comey. Rosenstein went off and created a memo that was used to justify Comey’s firing. That memo became the centerpiece of the Trump White House PR efforts, until Trump himself blew the cover away by admitting that he was determined to fire Comey in the first place.
And Rosenstein “stands behind” the memo … but declined to say more. But that’s okay. He didn’t say how far behind it he stands.