No less than 2 days after Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Fox News’s leading prime time hosts, and some guests repeating White House spin on the firing of FBI Director James Comey, Donald Trump stepped in to scuttle their (and his own) narrative.
On May 10, the day after Comey was fired, Joe Concha joined Tucker Carlson to bemoan the media’s coverage of Comey being fired in the midst of an investigation Trump desperately wants to go away. Concha repeated Trump’s claim that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein recommended Comey be fired.
“You have a Deputy Attorney General, just appointed two weeks ago, 94-6 vote, so he’s not seen as a partisan, recommending that Comey be gone,” Concha said.
That echoes statements from the Trump administration attributing the firing to Rosenstein’s purported recommendation that Comey be fired. The letter signed by Trump says, “I have received the attached letters from the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General of the United States recommending your dismissal as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.” The statement from the White House press office says, “President Trump acted based on the clear
recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”
On May 11, however, Trump admitted that he himself made the decision to fire Comey. In an interview with NBC News, Trump said,
He [Rosenstein] made a recommendation, he’s highly respected, very good guy, very smart guy. The Democrats like him, the Republicans like him. He made a recommendation. But regardless of [the] recommendation, I was going to fire Comey. Knowing there was no good time do it!
He also said he was thinking about the Russia investigation when he decided to fire Comey:
And in fact when I decided to just do it I said to myself, I said, “You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”
Perhaps there was no good time to do it–except maybe after he won the election, if he felt Comey’s actions during the election were wrong, and before Comey testified that Trump campaign officials were under investigation–but it’s a particularly bad time to fire the FBI director who is investigating your administration days after he asks for more resources, as Trump did, and days after Sally Yates testified that Trump ignored warnings about Michael Flynn, and on the same day Trump asked, “[W]hen will this taxpayer funded charade end?”
You could call that not good timing.
The Trump administration’s explanation for the firing was always transparently nonsense. Trump praised Comey gushingly for his handling of the Clinton investigation in October, saying that it would have been a problem if he didn’t release the letter eleven days before the election–as did most Republican politicians who went on the record.
One person Trump did consult with before firing Comey was conspiracy nut and former official Trump advisor (now relegated to unofficial Trump advisor) Roger Stone, the New York Times reported.
So Trump decided to fire Comey long ago. At a dinner in January, Trump demanded multiple times that Comey promise him loyalty, but Comey could only promise to be honest. But partisan conservative journalists, who are supposed to be a watchdog on power, attack those who are reporting skeptically on the Trump administration, instead buying the Trump administration’s spin hook, line, and sinker. And then Trump undercuts them because he can’t keep his own spin straight.
“I’m totally confused why the people on my TV set are hyperventilating,” a stern Carlson said in a harsh voice May 10. “When you have a perch on television, your job is to have some perspective. I don’t know? To kind of… see this in the big picture,” said Carlson, who can’t see the controversy in a president firing an FBI director who is leading an investigation into the president, which the president often lies about and attacks in hysterical terms.
Carlson kept it up two days later, even after Trump had stated that he didn’t weigh the recommendation of the deputy AG (whatever it was), in his firing, calling it an outrage that Democrats want a special investigator appointed.
Sean Hannity called comparisons to Watergate, when President Nixon fired the special investigator, much as Trump fired the FBI director investigating him, “conspiracy theories.”
Levin then challenged the Democrats to “name a single Russian who colluded with Donald Trump and his campaign.” Hmmm… Sounds like the kind of thing Trump wouldn’t want anyone to know about, if it existed. In fact, that’s exactly what the Comey said the FBI was investigating. It’s part of the investigation Trump has said he wants to be stopped. Of course, the investigation is still ongoing, so if there were any corrupt ties to be uncovered, they wouldn’t be known now, would they? And they wouldn’t be known ever if the investigation were to end or if the next FBI director felt pressured not to probe too deeply.
We do know some unsettling things:
– Michael Flynn, who was paid by Russian entities, discussed lifting sanctions with Russia’s ambassador at the same time the Obama administration was imposing sanctions for hacking and then lied about it, and the Trump administration ignored warnings that he could be compromised.
– Russian spies met with Trump advisor Carter Page in 2013 and tried to recruit him. Page visited Moscow in July 2016 and gave a speech at a Moscow think tank.
– One of Trump’s campaign chairmen, Paul Mamafort, secretly worked for Russian oligarchs to support Russian interests–and worked for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.
– Roger Stone had advanced knowledge of the release of hacked Clinton advisor emails.
– Trump repeatedly praised Putin and called for Russia to hack Clinton’s emails (or joked about it, if you are a Trump supporter).
– Some of the information in the infamous dossier has been corroborated, according to agents. (Some hasn’t.)
What we do know, then, is that Trump hired people for his campaign with sketchy connections, and he apparently still talks to some of them, such as Stone. Was there any coordination between him and the Russians on promoting the hacks? That we won’t know if the investigation doesn’t continue.
UPDATE: Tucker is still not embarrassed. Here he is talking about
Trump’s tax returns the men’s room at Penn Station:
Tucker Carlson screaming about Penn Station bathrooms to avoid talking about Trump's Russia ties. I know this sounds fake. It's not. Enjoy. pic.twitter.com/Nlj1SPHen7
— Carlos Maza (@gaywonk) May 17, 2017