The White House has said that FBI Director James Comey committed “atrocities” during his tenure which prompted US President Donald Trump to fire him.
Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders at the daily press briefing on Wednesday said Trump had been thinking about firing Comey from the moment he was elected, Efe news reported.
Filling in for Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Sanders explained Comey’s sudden Tuesday departure on his “circumventing the chain of command of the Department of Justice”.
Trump was advised in a letter by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions of “the basic atrocities” by Comey which moved Trump to make the FBI chief’s exit “effective immediately”.
She said that Trump had lost confidence in Comey over the past few months, although he had supported the investigating agency’s actions during the Presidential campaign with regard to Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server.
However, Sanders said that the White House was encouraging the FBI to continue with its investigation into Russian contacts with the Trump campaign.
She, however, made it clear that the administration feels no need for an independent prosecutor, as Democratic and some Republican lawmakers have demanded to guarantee a thorough examination of the facts.
“If Hillary Clinton had won the election – which thank God she didn’t – but if she had and she had been in the same position she would’ve fired Comey immediately,” she added.
The very Democrats that are criticising the President now would be dancing in the streets celebrating, so it’s just the purest form of hypocrisy, she said.
Trump on Wednesday defended his decision to abruptly fire Comey, saying that he did so because “he wasn’t doing a good job”.
It was the first public comment Trump has made about summarily dismissing Comey, a move that has sparked a political storm.
The President had made the Comey-remark during a meeting with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the Oval Office.
“He wasn’t doing a good job. Very simply. He was not doing a good job,” Trump said upon being asked why he had suddenly booted the FBI chief on Tuesday.
When asked if the Comey matter had affected his meeting earlier on Wednesday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the President said, “No.”
Trump, however, did not respond to a question about whether the new FBI Director would be in charge of the investigation into Russia’s contacts with his election campaign.
He also said on Twitter that “Comey lost the confidence of almost everyone in Washington, Republican and Democrat alike. When things calm down, they will be thanking me!”
He did not mention any repercussions the dismissal might have on the FBI and congressional probes into Russia’s contacts with his campaign.