Did Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Threaten to Quit?
U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein, right, speaks at a news conference in Baltimore, Wednesday, March 1, 2017, to announce that seven Baltimore police officers who worked on a firearms crime task force are facing charges of stealing money, property and narcotics from people over two years.Patrick Semansky / AP
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The firing of FBI Director James Comey is consuming Washington for a third straight day and Thursday’s big events include an appearance by FBI interim director Andrew McCabe in front of a Senate committee and an interview of President Donald Trump by NBC News’ Lester Holt.
Here’s a roundup of the biggest and latest news on the Comey front:
Two Justice Department officials are refuting a report that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein threatened to resign unless his role in writing the Comey memo was better defined so that the impression wasn't left that he was the "prime mover" in the firing. "Didn't happen," one official told NBC News. "He did not threaten to resign" said another.
The Washington Post originally reported that Rosenstein threatened to resign after being portrayed as the catalyst for Comey's dismissal. Rosenstein's memo, which the Post reports was the product of a Trump mandate to explain Comey's firing before it took place, said the FBI is "unlikely to regain public and congressional trust" because of how it handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails. The paper's in-depth, behind-the-scenes report indicates the memo was the result of a Trump directive to justify the forthcoming dismissal.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday afternoon that Rosenstein had asked White House Counsel Don McGahn to "correct what he felt was an inaccurate depiction" of the chain of events around Comey's firing and was "distressed" at characterizations coming from the White House.
The Post also reports that Trump was "infuriated" by Comey for Justice Department leaks and the continuation of stories about his possible ties to Russia. The president found Comey's Congressional testimony "strange," the paper reported, and remained angry the director would not support his claims President Barack Obama ordered surveillance on Trump Tower during the campaign.
The New York Times reports that Comey grew exasperated by Trump's unfounded claims. After the wiretap accusations, Comey told associates he "was flabbergasted. The president, Mr. Comey told associates, was ‘outside the realm of normal, even ‘crazy.’”
Comey told colleagues in letter Wednesday not to dwell on the firing, saying he has "long believed that a President can fire an FBI Director for any reason, or for no reason at all." He added: "I'm not going to spend time on the decision or the way it was executed. I hope you won't either. It is done, and I will be fine, although I will miss you and the mission deeply."