President Donald Trump, who has contradicted top aides about his firing of FBI Director James Comey, on Friday fired off a tweet at odds with his own statements about the decision that triggered a special counsel probe.
Trump, alluding to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, wrote that he is being “investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director!” He then, as he does almost daily, referred to the Justice Department’s Russia election meddling probe as a “Witch Hunt.”
Yet, the president’s tweet contradicts his own comments about how and when he decided to fire Comey and appears to acknowledge that he is being investigated over terminating the FBI director.
I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2017
Trump terminated Comey on May 9. Two days later, the president revealed he was going to fire him no matter what senior Justice Department officials recommended.
“I was going to fire Comey,” Trump told NBC News in an interview taped May 11. “Regardless of the recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.”
Trump was referring to a memo prepared by Rod Rosenstein — and signed off on by Attorney General Jeff Sessions — that called for axing Comey because he, during the 2016 campaign, went around the department’s chain of command.
That memo was delivered to Trump the same day he fired Comey.
Sessions told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence under oath on June 13 that he and Rosenstein agreed during their meeting with Trump that Comey should be fired. He told the panel that the president asked for a document laying out a case for termination.
“Well, we were asked our opinion, and when we expressed it, which was consistent with the memorandum and the letter we wrote, I felt comfortable … and I guess the deputy attorney general did too,” he said, “in providing that information in writing.”
In his tweet, Trump says he was “told” to fire Comey, but the commander in chief normally doesn’t take orders from members of his administration.
In another tweet posted about two hours earlier on Friday morning, Trump, for the second consecutive day, went directly after DOJ’s Russia probe, which now includes an examination of whether the president obstructed justice when asking Comey to drop a probe of his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, or by firing Comey.
Trump wrote that the investigation has not “been able to show any proof,” an allegation which he assessed with one of his signature Twitter catchphrases: “Sad!”
After 7 months of investigations & committee hearings about my "collusion with the Russians," nobody has been able to show any proof. Sad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2017
Trump’s strategy for tweeting about what has become an obstruction of justice investigation focused on him is unclear. Many Republican lawmakers, for instance, want the president to drop his Twitter habit.
And a third tweet contended that despite the “phony Witch Hunt” — Trump capitalized both words as if the phrase is a proper noun — the economy under his watch is booming.
Despite the phony Witch Hunt going on in America, the economic & jobs numbers are great. Regulations way down, jobs and enthusiasm way up!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2017
Economists and former Obama administration officials, however, say the 44th president’s policies are mostly responsible for the economy’s performance. Trump administration officials often say, typically while pointing to the performance of stock markets, businesses feel more confident under Trump.