James Comey's dismissal: Differing accounts from Trump officials

FBI Director James Comey at the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Russian actions during the 2016 election campaign on  March 20, 2017.
FBI Director James Comey at the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Russian actions during the 2016 election campaign on March 20, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (NY TIMES, WASHINGTON POST ) - Since US President Donald Trump's shock dismissal of FBI director James Comey on Tuesday, the official account of how and why he was sacked has changed.

On Thursday, Mr Trump appeared to contradict the initial version of events.

Here is a timeline of explanations provided by the White House and the President since Tuesday.

ON TUESDAY

Mr Trump fired Mr Comey, with a letter sent to FBI headquarters by his bodyguard. Mr Comey found out about the dismissal through the media.

LATER ON TUESDAY

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer released a statement saying Mr Trump had decided to fire Mr Comey only after Attorney-General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein had recommended that Mr Comey be dismissed for his handling of last year's probe into Mrs Hillary Clinton's e-mails.

ON TUESDAY NIGHT

White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway told CNN that Mr Trump had taken the recommendation of Mr Rosenstein for Mr Comey's sacking.

ON WEDNESDAY MORNING

Vice-President Mike Pence told reporters on Capitol Hill that the dismissial was "the President's decision to accept the recommendation of the Deputy Attorney-General and the Attorney-General".

ON THE SAME DAY

Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Mr Trump had been thinking about letting Mr Comey go since winning the presidential election, but Mr Rosenstein had independently decided to review Mr Comey's conduct and had approached Mr Trump with his concerns.

ON WEDNESDAY EVENING

The White House released a new timeline of events. According to this version, Mr Trump had in recent weeks been "strongly inclined to remove" Mr Comey.

It added that Mr Trump had met Justice Department officials, and discused reasons for removing Mr Comey.

But it said Mr Trump had made his final decision only after getting written recommendations from Mr Rosenstein and Mr Sessions.

ON THURSDAY

In an interview with NBC News, Mr Trump called Mr Comey "a showboat" and contradicted the earlier versions of events.

" I was going to fire Comey - my decision," Mr Trump told NBC. "I was going to fire regardless of recommendation."

LATER ON THURSDAY

Ms Sanders repeated the official White House timeline and said Mr Trump had already made up his mind to let Mr Comey go before meeting Mr Sessions and Mr Rosenstein. She said she had not asked Mr Trump that question directly before the previous day's briefing.

ON FRIDAY MORNING

In response to media criticism over the contradictory versions of Mr Comey's dismissal, Mr Trump tweeted: "As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!

"Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future press briefings and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???"

 

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