Every time FBI Director James Comey appeared in public, an ever-watchful President Trump grew agitated that the topic was the one that he was most desperate to avoid: Russia, the Washington Post reports. Trump had long questioned Comey’s loyalty and judgment, and was infuriated by the director’s lack of action in recent weeks on leaks from within the federal government. By last weekend, he had made up his mind: Comey had to go. Comey, Trump figured, was using the Russia probe to become a martyr. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein 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.
The stated rationale for Comey’s firing from deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was that he had committed “atrocities” in overseeing the FBI’s probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state, hurting morale in the bureau and compromising public trust. “He wasn’t doing a good job,” Trump said yesterday. “Very simple. He wasn’t doing a good job.” Behind the scenes, Trump was angry that Comey would not support his baseless claim that President Barack Obama had his campaign offices wiretapped. Trump was frustrated when Comey told senators the breadth of the counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s effort to sway the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He fumed that Comey was giving too much attention to the Russia probe and not enough to investigating leaks to journalists.