Former CIA Director Michael Hayden suggested Tuesday that President Donald Trump cited James Comey's news conference last year in firing him as CIA head – but the president might actually have done so because "the administration thinks he might do it again this year with the [Russian] investigation."
"He had his press conference last year," Hayden, who also directed the NSA, told Wolf Blitzer on CNN, referring to Comey's press session last July on the FBI's probe into Hillary Clinton's private email use.
Comey has since testified that it would have been "catastrophic" to keep Congress in the dark about developments in its email investigation.
The FBI also currently probing Russian involvement in the November presidential election.
"He slipped the leash from the attorney general," Hayden explained, referring to Loretta Lynch. "He had his press conference last July, without the knowledge of the attorney general, making decisions to prosecute or not prosecute without taking it to the attorney general.
"Then, he did it in a press conference.
"Very controversial," Hayden said. "Very unprecedented.
"If that was the sin, the time to get rid of him was in January," when Trump took office.
"There has to be something more here," Hayden surmised, "and in the current investigation, it has to be feared that he would do the same thing."
Hayden also praised Comey as "principled" and as someone who has been "his own man."
"Some of his critics say his own man almost to a fault," he told Blitzer. "I thought he was the right guy for the Clinton administration and Russian investigations."
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