President Donald Trump drafted a letter to fired FBI Director James Comey outlining why he was getting the boot — indicating his refusal to say publicly that Trump wasn't a target in the agency's Russia probe was "hampering the country," The Wall Street Journal reported.
Quoting an unnamed Trump administration official, the Journal reported Trump worked on the drafted letter, which was never sent, at the president's golf club in Bedminster, N.J., in early May.
One unnamed Trump administration official told the Journal that Trump wanted this message sent: "You've told me three times I'm not under investigation but you won't tell the world, and it's hampering the country."
The president wrote the four-page letter with the help of senior White House aide Stephen Miller, the Journal reported.
"It was the president's ideas. Miller was the scrivener," the unnamed official told the Journal.
Trump shared the draft with various White House aides and gave it to top Justice Department officials in a meeting at the White House on May 8, the day before Comey was axed.
Also that day, the Journal noted, Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, shared his own concerns about Comey's leadership with the president at the White House, and Trump asked him to write it up in a memo.
On May 9, Trump's four-paragraph letter telling Comey he'd been fired invoked letters from the Justice Department leadership citing damage the former director had done to the FBI's credibility during an investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's email practices.
Yet, Trump himself acknowledged in an interview with NBC News in May that he'd intended to fire Comey all along, regardless of the memo from Rosenstein.
Last month, with the White House's consent, the Justice Department turned over the draft letter to Mueller, two unnamed administration officials told the Journal.
The New York Times first reported the existence of the never-sent draft letter.
According to the Journal, the president drafted the first letter just days after Comey's testimony to Congress on May 3 defending his handling of the Clinton email investigation in 2016 — and was "offended" by it, complaining about the "arrogance" of Comey.
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