Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani says that President Donald Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey in part because he would not tell him that the president was not personally a target in the intelligence agency’s probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
Mr Giuliani, who is a recent addition to Mr Trump’s legal team charged with helping deal with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, made the comment during an appearance on Fox News.
“He fired Comey because Comey would not, among other things, say that he wasn’t a target of the investigation,” Mr Giuliani told the cable network’s Sean Hannity, who has himself been a vocal supporter of Mr Trump.
“He’s entitled to that. Hillary Clinton got that and he couldn’t get that,” Giuliani said, apparently referring to Mr Comey’s decision to announce that the FBI had concluded its investigation into Ms Clinton’s emails during the 2016 campaign.
“So he fired him and he said, ‘I’m free of this guy,’” Mr Giuliani said.
The statement is the latest in an ever-lengthening history of justifications for why Mr Trump chose to fire Mr Comey last year. Just recently, Mr Trump tweeted that he did not fire Mr Comey because of the “phony Russia investigation”.
But, Mr Trump did indicate that the investigation played a part in his decision making process just after the firing, during an appearance on national television.
“Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey,” Trump said during that interview with NBC News, referring to the alleged recommendation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire the former FBI director. “There was no good time to do it.”
Before that interview, Mr Trump’s White House team had indicated that the decision to fire Mr Comey was a decision made at the Department of Justice. Mr Rosenstein later indicated that Mr Trump had already made up his mind to fire Mr Comey when he wrote a letter expressing concerns about his performance — which was then described as a recommendation to fire him.
“And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story,’” Trump continued during the NBC interview.
Since joining Mr Trump’s legal team, Mr Giuliani has taken on the task of negotiating an interview between Mr Trump and Mr Mueller’s team. He has said that he is seeking an interview that falls under several conditions, including a time limit of just a few hours, and an interview that only addresses a “narrow set of questions”.
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