There has been considerable distancing by the FBI from Donald Trump in the wake of the firing of its head James Comey, with the new acting head already contradicting the White House version of events that the rank and file had lost confidence in Comey.
When confronted with the Trump administration’s claim of Comey’s unpopularity, Andrew McCabe – who has been the FBI’s acting director since the sacking – told the Senate intelligence committee: “That is not accurate.”
“I can tell you he and I worked very, very closely from the time we started at the Washington field office,” McCabe said on Thursday. “I hold Director Comey in the highest regard for his considerable abilities and his integrity. It is the greatest honour of my professional life to have worked with him. He enjoyed broad support in the FBI and he still does to this day … The vast majority of FBI staff enjoyed a deep and positive connection to Director Comey.”
McCabe’s testament to the high esteem Comey was held in within the FBI came a day after the White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: “The rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director.”
McCabe also contradicted the White House on the scale of the Russia investigation. Huckabee Sanders had said it was “probably one of the smallest things” on the FBI’s plate. McCabe denied that, calling it a “highly significant investigation”.
So is McCabe going to be fired soon for disloyalty to Trump because disagreeing with Trump is ipso facto seen by him as disloyalty? Trump may have to fire the entire FBI staff because they are so upset with his behavior that he was forced to cancel a visit to the FBI headquarters because of the hostility towards him.
Meanwhile Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein who wrote the memo that criticized Comey and that Trump initially used to justify the firing has reportedly threatened to resign if he were made to seem as if he were the person responsible for the sacking. Trump has since changed that line and said that he had decided to fire Comey before he got the memo, lavishly praising Rosenstein and trashing Comey, the way he does anybody who is the enemy of the moment. He called Comey a ‘showboat’ who was ‘grandstanding’, which is an excellent example of projection, where one imputes to others one’s own qualities and motives.
In the process of changing the story, Trump hung out to dry White House officials who said that Rosenstein was responsible, and contradicting his stalwart allies who supported his earlier story. But Josh Marshall thinks that Rosenstein, who prior to this had a good reputation, is being disingenuous. Whether he was asked to write such a memo by Trump or not, there is no way to read it other than as a call for Comey’s firing. He says that Rosenstein is yet another example of the fact that anyone associated with Trump gets their reputation shredded, unless they already had sold their souls.
We can also see the staggering fact that after no more than two weeks on the job, Rosenstein’s public reputation, which was formidable, has been destroyed.
I cannot figure why Rosenstein took part in this. I don’t know enough about him to attempt any analysis of his personality. All I know is that he did. And that, whatever his motivations and however it matches or mismatches with his career to this point, his public reputation is deservedly obliterated.
By now anyone with the slightest awareness should know that Trump always shifts the blame for any mess on other people, whoever and whatever serves his immediate need.
Trump also said that he had asked Comey if he was being investigated and received assurances on three occasions that he was not. As president and Comey’s boss, asking such a question is way out of line and highly, highly unethical, but in this scandal-ridden administration any concern with ethics seems so quaint. This story is highly unlikely to be true and new reports suggest that Trump was lying, as usual.
One week after Trump was sworn is as the 45th president of the United States, he met with Comey at a private dinner and asked the FBI director to pledge his loyalty, according to a report by The New York Times. When Comey refused to do so — Comey instead merely promised Trump that he would always be honest with him — Trump waited until later in the dinner and then repeated his request. Comey again declined, reiterating that he would only promise his honesty but not his loyalty.
Eventually Trump asked Comey for “honest loyalty,” and Comey replied that he would give that to Trump.
According to the sources close to Comey, the FBI director told them about this conversation on the grounds that they not discuss it publicly while he served as FBI director. Now that he has been fired, they are coming forward — albeit anonymously.
The Trump White House, not surprisingly, is denying that this happened. “We don’t believe this to be an accurate account,” deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told The Times. “The integrity of our law enforcement agencies and their leadership is of the utmost importance to President Trump. He would never even suggest the expectation of personal loyalty, only loyalty to our country and its great people.”
Now Trump is warning Comey that he should not contradict him because he may have tapes of the conversation, which is also probably a lie. It is pretty much a safe bet that Trump is lying all the time.
Just another chaotic, lie-filled, unethical day in the Trump administration.