Deputy Attorney General 'knew Comey would be fired' before writing memo advising Trump to do so

'He did acknowledge that he learned Comey would be removed, prior to writing his memo,' says Senator Claire McCaskill 

Click to follow
The Independent US

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein knew former FBI Director James Comey was going to be fired before he wrote the memo supporting his dismissal, senators briefed on the situation have claimed.

Mr Rosenstein's memo was initially cited by the White House as the primary reason Mr Comey was fired. But senators present at a closed-door meeting with Mr Rosenstein say the deputy attorney general knew about Mr Comey's impending dismissal the day before he wrote the memo. 

"He did acknowledge that he learned Comey would be removed, prior to writing his memo," Senator Claire McCaskill told reporters after the meeting.

The revelation further confuses the murky timeline laid out by the White House following Mr Comey's surprising dismissal.

White House communications staff initially said the President decided to fire Mr Comey after receiving recommendations from both Mr Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The president himself said in his letter to the former FBI director that he had "accepted their recommendation" and concurred "with the judgement of the Department of Justice".

Staff also said the reason for the firing was Mr Comey's handling of the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email servers. 

Two days later, however, Mr Trump claimed the decision to fire Mr Comey has been entirely his own, made independent of the Justice Department's recommendation. He further claimed to have fired Mr Comey after deciding that the basis of the FBI's investigation into his possible ties to Russia was a "made-up story". 

Mr Rosenstein's disclosure seems to confirm Mr Trump's version of the story – that he had made up his mind to fire Mr Comey before the Justice Department wrote their memos about him.

Further confusing the story, however, Mr Trump cited Mr Rosenstein's memo as a deciding factor in firing Comey  during a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

"I got a very strong recommendation, as you know, from the deputy attorney general," Mr Trump said, responding to questions about Mr Comey's firing.

The New York Times previously reported that Mr Trump had asked Mr Comey to drop the FBI's investigation into his former national security adviser, Mike Flynn. The Times cited a memo, written by Mr Comey, on the details of the meeting.

Associates of Mr Comey has also claimed that the president asked him to pledge his loyalty shortly after taking office. Mr Comey is said to have declined, and only offered his "honesty".