Trump told Russians Comey was fired to lessen pressure of Russia probe. Trump called Comey a “nutjob.”
Donald Trump admitted to the Russians earlier this month that he fired FBI Director Comey because of the pressure the Russia probe was putting on him, according to the NYT.
In an effort to explain Trump’s words, White House press secretary Sean Spicer today then backed up Trump’s assertion that it was the Russia probe that motivated Comey’s firing.
This dual admission could be a central part of the new special counsel investigation of the Trump team’s collusion with Russia during and after the election, and any potential obstruction of justice charges against Trump and his team.
In a new transcript of Trump’s Oval Office meeting with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador the day after Comey was fired, Trump tells the Russians: “I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
In other words, firing Comey relieved Trump of the pressure he was feeling because of the Russia investigation. (I reported earlier today on how Trump ended up firing Comey after Trump tried, and failed, to win Comey’s “loyalty,” in an effort to kill the Russia probe.)
Sean Spicer’s explanation of Trump’s words only dug them all a deeper pit:
In a statement, [Spicer] said that Mr. Comey had put unnecessary pressure on the president’s ability to conduct diplomacy with Russia on matters such as Syria, Ukraine and the Islamic State.
“By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia,” Mr. Spicer said. “The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it. Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations.”
So, not only does Spicer link Comey’s firing to the Russia probe, and to Trump’s attempts to lessen the impact of the probe, but Spicer also admits that the probe was getting in the way of the White House’s attempts to improve relations with Russia, something Russia dearly wants.
There are so many angles to the self-incrimination in both Trump’s and Spicer’s admissions. Trump trying to help himself. Trump trying to help the Russians. Trump trying to stymie the Russia investigation. The indictments practically write themselves.
This is yet another disastrous development for Trump and Spicer (who is reportedly on his way out as the White House daily briefer). And it’s yet another disastrous leak for Trump.