The latest installment in the continuing saga of President Trump is that he allegedly told the Russian delegation in the White House last week that former FBI Director James Comey was a “nut job” and that his firing had relieved the “great” pressure from the Russia investigation.
Trump also reportedly told the visiting Russians, “I’m not under investigation.”
The comments were attributed them to a “White House document that contained Mr. Trump’s comments [and] was based on notes taken from inside the Oval Office and has been circulated as the official account of the meeting.” The story adds that “one [American] official read quotations to The Times, and a second official confirmed the broad outlines of the discussion.”
The Times story reports that Press Secretary Sean Spicer did not dispute the account. “By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia,” Spicer said in a written statement. “The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it. Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations.”
The meeting with the Russians occurred the day after the firing of Comey was announced. It is the same meeting in which Trump reportedly gave the visiting Russians classified information. It is not clear whether the comments were made before or after the president discussed the classified material.
An additional US official cited in the article described Trump’s comments as a negotiating tactic. According to the Times, “The idea… was to create a sense of obligation with Russian officials and to coax concessions out of [Russian Foreign Minister] Mr. Lavrov — on Syria, Ukraine and other issues — by saying that Russian meddling in last year’s election had created enormous political problems for Mr. Trump.”
The Trump Administration has not been consistent about the rationale for Comey’s firing. At various times, the president has suggested that Comey was fired based on the recommendation of Justice Department officials and that Mr. Trump made the decision and had asked for the recommendations himself. At one point, Trump cited the “Russia thing” to NBC News as part of his justification for the firing.
In related news, the Twitter forecast is for an impending tweetstorm tomorrow morning.