According to The New York Times – and another one of the Times’ now-infamous anonymous sources – President Trump told Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov that the firing of FBI director James Comey had “relieved ‘great pressure’ on him.” The meeting at the White House was held the day after Comey’s ousting.
Here’s the Times report:
“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”
While the Times attributed the account to a “White House document…based on notes taken from inside the Oval Office,” confirmed by two sources, the White House didn’t bother to deny it – Sean Spicer “did not dispute the account.” Instead, he stated that Comey had “put unnecessary pressure on the president’s ability to conduct diplomacy with Russia on such matters 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. 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.
Spicer isn’t wrong that these leaks continue to jeopardize the health of the Trump administration. It’s unclear how Comey had impacted relations between Trump and Russia, given that he had merely testified about the continuation of an ongoing investigation.
This is the second questionable remark attributed to Trump during this short conversation with the Russians; earlier this week, The Washington Post reported that Trump had spilled classified information to the Russians that put an Israeli resource in danger.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that a “current White House official” is a “significant person of interest” in the probe on Russia and Trump. The Post – once again, citing anonymous sources – said that the person was “someone close to the president” and that the investigation would continue to focus on former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn and former campaign manager Paul Manafort as well. The report also states that subpoenas will be coming as the investigation escalates. This story will only confirm administration concerns about the “deep state” attempt to sink the legitimacy of the White House.