White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Friday is giving his first briefing since President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, as questions about the timing and reasoning behind Mr. Trump’s shocking decision mount.
Mr. Trump suggested Friday morning over Twitter that maybe “it would be best to cancel” the White House press briefings, after Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave an account of the decision to fire Comey that was in direct conflict with what Mr. Trump said later.
Spicer has been at the Pentagon fulfilling his Naval Reserve duty, and was supposed to continue work at the Pentagon Friday, but was called back to the White House. The president suggested, again over Twitter, that because he’s such “a very active President,” that his surrogates can’t speak for him “with perfect accuracy.”
The White House has claimed Mr. Trump fired Comey because he lost the confidence of rank-and-file FBI employees and because of a Tuesday recommendation from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire Comey over his handling of the Clinton email investigation. But Mr. Trump himself has contradicted initial statements (as well as his own termination letter of Comey), claiming he was going to fire Comey regardless of any DOJ recommendation and that when he decided to fire Comey, he thought of the “made-up” story about his connections to Russia.
Earlier this year, the president also asked Comey to pledge his loyalty. Comey responded that he could promise that he’d be honest with him. Mr. Trump’s account of the dinner differs from Comey’s, and earlier Friday, he tweeted that Comey had “better hope that there are no ‘tapes.‘” Comey, according to a source, isn’t worried about the possible existence of any tapes.
Comey was leading the investigation into Russian election meddling.
Follow the live blog below for updates on the 1 p.m. briefing.
Spicer, McMaster avoid addressing Comey in introduction
Spicer said nothing of the president’s decision to fire Comey as he stepped up to the podium at 1:23 p.m., commenting only on the “full house” in the briefing room.
“Apparently, I was a little missed,” he said.
Spicer invited National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster to the podium to address the president’s upcoming first foreign trip.
McMaster declined to answer a question related to the intelligence community and Comey’s firing, saying he would defer all such questions to Spicer.