The White House over the weekend changed its story — again, for the fourth time — as to why President Donald Trump terminated FBI Director James Comey, according to an NBC News analysis.
A repeat of the latest version came Sunday when national security adviser H.R. McMaster told ABC News that Trump canned Comey because the ex-FBI head was jamming up Trump's abilities to work with Russia.
"The gist of the conversation was that the president feels as if he is hamstrung in his ability to work with Russia to find areas of cooperation because this has been obviously so much in the news," McMaster said Sunday.
That's No. 4, according to NBC's breakdown and accompanying timeline:
- No. 1: Comey was fired because of "recommendation" by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
- No. 2: Trump said he was going to fire the "showboater" Comey regardless of Rosenstein's recommendation; said Russia investigation was contributing factor.
- No. 3: Trump reportedly told the Russians that Comey was a "nut job" and that he was "facing great pressure."
- No. 4: The White House said Trump was talking about foreign policy — Comey was impeding it.
"By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia's actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia," White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday.
That was reinforced Sunday with McMaster saying Trump was "hamstrung."
All of this comes during and after a whirlwind week that saw a memo of Comey's surface that alleged Trump asked Comey to drop the agency's probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Comey is expected to testify in an open hearing sometime after Memorial Day.
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