President Trump and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions supposedly fired FBI Director James Comey for actions they publicly praised.
After Trump unexpectedly ousted Comey Tuesday night, his White House team said the FBI leader’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation was the biggest cause.
Trump was indeed upset last July when Comey did not recommend charges against Clinton for using a private email server as secretary of state.
But when Comey reopened the probe less than two weeks before the election, Trump and his would-be A.G. suddenly had nothing but nice words to say about him.
“I have to tell you, I respect the fact that Director Comey was able to come back after what he did,” Trump told a Phoenix campaign crowd Oct. 29.
“I respect that very much.”
Two days later, Trump said Comey had won back his respect.
“It took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made in light of the kind of opposition he had,” he said at a Grand Rapids, Mich., rally.
“I was not his fan, but I’ll tell you what: What he did, he brought back his reputation. He brought it back.”
At the same time, Sessions — then an Alabama senator — also commended Comey.
“He had an absolute duty, in my opinion, 11 days (before the election) or not to come forward with the new information that he has and let the American people know that too,” Sessions said Oct. 30 on Fox Business.
Six days later, he said on Fox News that Comey “did the right thing.”
Comey closed the second probe before the election with no charges and no new findings. Still, Clinton and many Democrats would blame Comey’s last-minute actions as a major factor in Trump’s unexpected victory.
After winning the presidency, Trump seemed unsure as to how he felt about the FBI leadership.
Speaking to “60 Minutes” in November, the President-elect said he would “certainly like to talk” to Comey about the Clinton investigation before deciding whether to keep him on the job.
“This is a tough time for him, and I would like to talk to him before I’d answer a question like that,” Trump said.
Since Trump took office, Comey made major moves that surely infuriated the President.
In the course of one Senate testimony, Comey confirmed the FBI was investigating the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia, and also said he had seen no evidence behind Trump’s claim that former President Barack Obama wiretapped him.
But none of that made it into the letter from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recommending Trump fire Comey.
Instead, Rosenstein focused on the Clinton emails.
“I cannot defend the Director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails,” the letter said, “and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken.”