Keeping Track of the Trump/Comey Story

The first major scandal of Donald Trump’s presidency has broken. When Trump fired FBI director James Comey, he dipped into a deep well of controversy that has yet to abate. This post is intended as a running catalog of the story. I will update it as more comes out.

  • On May 9, Trump fired Comey.
  • Mike Pence, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and others contend that the firing had nothing to do with the Russia investigation, and was instead taken up at the behest of deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who wrote a memo detailing Comey’s failings.
  • On May 10, Trump reportedly tells the Russian foreign minister and ambassador that he fired Comey to ease pressure from the Russia investigation. He tells the Russians, “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nutjob. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
  • Responding to the allegation that Trump had bragged to the Russians about firing Comey, White House press secretary Sean Spicer says, “By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia.”
  • On May 11, Trump goes on American TV, and admits that stymieing the investigation into his campaign played a key role in his decision. He says, “And in fact when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said ‘you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won’.”
  • In the same interview, Trump contradicts the official narrative, saying he was going to fire Comey “regardless” of the recommendation he received from the Justice Department.
  • Rosenstein, in a testimony before Congress, said he knew Trump was going to fire Comey before he wrote his memo.
  • On May 16, associates of Comey claim that the former FBI director has a memo detailing a conversation in which Trump asked him to go easy on former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
  • Reports from associates suggested that Comey had become increasingly uneasy about the relationship the president was pursuing with him.
  • The same report alleges that Trump asked Comey to publicly knock down reports of an investigation into his campaign. Comey refused.
  • On May 19, Rosenstein appoints Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate the 2016 election.
  • On May 22, the Washington Post runs a story claiming that in March, Trump appealed to the director of national intelligence Daniel Coats, and to the head of the NSA Admiral Michael S. Rodgers to publicly deny that any evidence existed of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Coats and Rodgers refused.
  • The same report alleges that unnamed White House officials asked top intelligence officials to encourage Comey to drop his probe of Michael Flynn.
  • On May 25, the Daily Beast reports that White House Chief-of-Staff Reince Priebus asked Comey and deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe to knock down the Russia investigation.
  • On June 7, the day before testifying before the Senate Intelligence committee, Comey released a transcript of his planned opening testimony. In it, he confirmed Trump’s claim that Comey had told him that he was not personally under investigation. He also corroborated earlier reports that the president had asked Comey to let the investigation into Michael Flynn go, had pressed him to pledge his loyalty to him, and that Trump had personally pressured him to publicly state that the president was not under investigation.

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