Donald Trump's White House is growing a tad testy about Steve Bannon's weekend accusation that Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey was the worst mistake in "modern political history."
After the vast majority of Monday’s queries to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders focused on questions about Bannon’s 60 Minutes interview, reporters still had one burning question at Tuesday’s press briefing: “Is the president aware that Steve Bannon described firing James Comey as the biggest mistake in modern political history?”
First and foremost, Sanders wanted everyone to know that “whether he is [aware] or not,” Trump is “proud” of the decision he made:
The president was 100 percent right in firing James Comey.
Phew. We wouldn’t Trump to be bogged down by any degree of self reflection—it might get in the way of his critical thinking.
Then Sanders went on to paint Trump’s decision as an act of political courage.
He knew at the time that it could be bad for him politically but he also knew and felt he had an obligation to do what was right for the American people and certainly the men and women at the FBI.
Never mind that the men and women at the FBI had full faith in Comey’s leadership or that Trump bragged to the Russians that firing Comey had really “taken off” the pressure—it was an extremely high-minded and considered decision.
Then Sanders looked down at her note pad and simply let the slander rip.
I think there is no secret—Comey by his own self-admission leaked privileged government information. Weeks before President Trump fired him, Comey testified that [if] an FBI agent engaged in the same practice, they would face serious repercussions. I think he set his own stage for himself on that front. His actions were improper and likely could have been illegal. Comey leaked memos to New York Times—your own outlet. He politicized an investigation by signaling he would exonerate Hillary Clinton before he ever interviewed her or other key witnesses. He is very happy with the decision he made and I think he has been fully vindicated by a lot of those new things and knowing that it was the right one.
Frankly, the only surprising thing there was the relative restraint Sanders used in framing Comey’s actions as “likely” illegal. Since when does this White House qualify anything they say?
Anyway, to answer the original question: Trump is obviously well aware of Bannon’s assertion and feeling just a little touchy about it. There there, Don—with any luck, this will all be over soon enough.