Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein threatened to quit after his letter was staged by the White House as the death knell to FBI Director James Comey, The Washington Post reported.
The mantra from President Donald Trump and the west wing has been that the president acted on the "recommendation" from Rosenstein to justify canning Comey, though the decision had been made before Rosenstein's letter ever made it to the White House, the Post reported.
Trump made up his mind last weekend, fired Comey on Tuesday, and nearly lost Rosenstein in the scrum that followed, the Post reported.
On Wednesday, Trump said Comey "wasn't doing a good job," but the underpinnings behind that statement were deeper and sideways, according to the Post.
Trump was furious that Comey refused to support him over Barack Obama wiretapping claims, and he was unhappy with Comey's testimony to Congress about the investigation into Russia's election-meddling.
Trump fumed over Comey's choice to investigate Russia but not the leaks to journalists.
"James Comey made the mistake of thinking that just because he announced the FBI was investigating possible collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, he had unfettered job security," Sam Nunberg, a former political adviser to Trump, told the Post.
Deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday said Trump had been contemplating firing Comey since Day 1, but wanted to give the director a chance.
The Post also quoted advisers and confidants who believe Trump should have fired Comey long ago, which made the president's whirlwind decision and execution — without communicating to most of the White House — curious and chaotic.
Hours went by Tuesday night on the cable network shows without a White House presence defending the decision and asserting the president's stance.
"You can't be the quarterback of the team if the rest of the team is not in the huddle," Newt Gingrich, confidant and adviser to Trump told the Post.
"The president has to learn to go a couple steps slower so that everyone can organize around him. When you don't loop people in, you deprive yourself of all of the opportunities available to a president of the United States."
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