Any investigation into Russia and possible collusion with President Donald Trump's campaign is still taking place, even after FBI Director James Comey was fired on Tuesday, White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday.
"That doesn't change because director Comey isn't there," Sanders told NBC's "Today" show. "This absolutely has nothing to do with any investigation into Russia."
Comey had "become a greater liability," Sanders continued, and the American people should have "more confidence" since the firing came following a written report from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, "somebody who sets the gold standard within the legal system."
However, the "Today" show pointed to article in Wednesday's edition of The Washington Post that quoted a source close to the White House who claimed Rosenstein threatened to step down after the Trump administration cast him as the reason behind the decision to fire Comey.
"I'm not aware of that conversation, but I do know the decision to fire director Comey was the president's and the president's alone," Sanders said. "Obviously, he took their recommendation very seriously. But the president had been thinking about this since November, since he was elected president.
"This was something he had considered. He had never been solidly on board with keeping Comey for the long term."
Further, the president's confidence in Comey eroded over a "long period of time," including last Wednesday, when Comey testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Sanders, calling it an "example and catalyst that pushed the president to the point" of dismissing the FBI leader.
"He asked for their feedback, they gave that to him orally," Sanders said of the report. "He asked them to put that recommendation, which was a very strong recommendation and very clear reasons why they also felt that the director should no longer be in that position."
Sanders said she also did not know what Trump's reasoning was behind a line in his dismissal letter to Comey, when he commented that he appreciated the three occasions when he was told he was not under investigation.
"I spoke to the president directly, and he said that those moments and conversations did take place," said Sanders.
She also denied that the president is not trying to clear the air when it comes to the Russian investigation.
"We've cooperated in every place we could," she said. "You've got the House committee looking into it where they say that they found nothing.You've got a Senate committee that started looking into it and so far they have said they have found nothing. The FBI's been looking into it, they have said they found nothing.
"We have cooperated in every step of this process, but it's been going on for nearly a year . . . we have to get to a place where we have cooperated, we have looked through it and nothing is there and it's time to move on. We want this thing to go to full completion. "
Sanders, also appearing on "CBS This Morning," commented that Comey has become a "bigger distraction" and that the "rank-and-file members" within the FBI had lost confidence in him.
CBS News, though, has disputed that remark through interviews with FBI agents, the show's hosts pointed out, but Sanders responded that "we've heard from quite a few from our side as well."
She also dismissed the call for a special prosecutor to investigate the matter of Russian collusion, saying it's "simply not necessary," as there are multiple groups already looking at the case.
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