Political News

#TBT: How the White House explained Comey's firing

Posted May 9, 2018 2:37 p.m. EDT

— It's been a full year, and we're still talking about James Comey's firing as FBI director. (To be fair, he's still talking about it too.) It was one of President Trump's defining actions in his first year as President, and it's hovered on the periphery of public consciousness, fueled by the release of Comey's book as well as special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Let's take a look back at how the White House itself responded to Comey's firing just one day later.

A day after Comey's firing, before press secretary Sarah Sanders said a word at the White House podium, the entire affair was confusing. Then Sanders started speaking and the situation got stickier. You can watch part of her' briefing in the Instagram video above.

"The President, over the last several months, lost confidence in Director Comey. The DOJ lost confidence in Director Comey. Bipartisan members of Congress made it clear that they had lost confidence in Director Comey. And, most importantly, the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director," Sanders said.

Going through it piece by piece, this statement is fascinating. (1) A week earlier, then-press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump had confidence in Comey. (2) To be fair to Sanders, she was right on the Congress bit. But then again, there are more than 500 members of Congress -- you can probably find disapproving voices on both sides if you ask them about any government official. (3) Days after Comey's firing, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee that "Comey enjoyed broad support within the FBI."

A variety of explanations for Comey's firing came out in the days after it happened. They were referred to, contradicted and built upon over the last year.

In retrospect, the contradicting explanations are a textbook example of what has become something of a recurring story when it comes to the administration's messaging. (It should be noted that Trump is currently without a communications director.)