With the narrative of how the Comey firing went down in constant flux (The White House and President Trump contradicting each other), WSJ reports that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein pressed White House counsel Don McGahn to correct what he felt was an inaccurate White House depiction of the events surrounding FBI Director James Comey’s firing, according to a person familiar with the conversation.
If you’re confused – we don’t blame you. Here is how this has played out… we think.
Pretext: On Monday Trump met with Rosenstein where they discussed Mr. Comey’s job performance. At the White House’s prompting, Rosenstein Tuesday wrote a memo to the president detailing his concerns about the director’s conduct.
In that letter, Mr. Rosenstein never expressly recommended that Mr. Comey be fired.
1) Trump administration seems to try to scapegoat Deput AG Rosenstein as being pivotal in the decision to fire FBI Director Comey.
The president’s termination letter to Mr. Comey, written on the same day, began by pointing to the memos he had received from the attorney general and deputy attorney general, and offered no further explanation for his decision to fire him.
White House releases a memo written by the Deputy AG, which contained Rosenstein’s recommendation to sack Comey citing the FBI director’s handling of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private server as a reason for Comey’s dismissal.
Sarah Sanders, a White House spokeswoman, told Fox News on Tuesday that Mr. Trump had reacted after receiving a “clear and direct and very strong recommendation from the deputy attorney general.”
Ms. Sanders, on MSNBC the following morning, said the reason for the dismissal was “real simple … The deputy attorney general made a very strong recommendation.”
Wednesday morning, Vice President Mike Pence, speaking to reporters at the Capitol, repeatedly pointed to Mr. Rosenstein’s letter while describing the president’s decision.
2) The Washington Post reports that Rosenstein threatened to quit over the assertion
As a result of the “alleged scapegoating”, Rosenstein has “threatened to resign after the narrative emerging from the White House on Tuesday evening cast him as a prime mover of the decision to fire Comey and that the president acted only on his recommendation.” With the WaPo once again quoting an unnamed person “close to the White House, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter” one should as usual take this with a grain of salt.
3) The Justice Department denies that this happened, on the record.
CNN’s @LauraAJarrett – DOJ on the record: Rosenstein did not threaten to resign
4) President Trump then admits in an Interview with NBC News that he would have fired him no matter what the view of Rosenstein and Sessions.
Trump then added that he was going to fire FBI Director James Comey “regardless” of what the Justice Department recommended,
5) The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, then reiterates the stroy from earlier that Rosenstein did threaten to quit and demanded that The White House clear up the timeline – to avoid making him a scapegoat.
Mr. Rosenstein left the impression that he couldn’t work in an environment where facts weren’t accurately reported, the person said. The deputy attorney general objected to statements by White House aides citing Mr. Rosenstein’s critical assessment of Mr.Comey’s job performance to justify the firing.
Mr. Rosenstein grew more distressed when, in television interviews that evening, White House advisers reiterated that the decision was made in response to the Justice Department’s recommendation.
Mr. Rosenstein called Mr. McGahn and urged them to correct the record.
6) The White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders admits that she didnt have all the facts when she released the detailed timeline yesterday.
See, clear as mud. We suspect there is plenty more to unravel here.