President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday morning that his decision to fire former F.B.I. director James Comey last May had nothing to do with the F.B.I.’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The tweet seems to contradict past statements made by Trump himself.
“Not that it matters but I never fired James Comey because of Russia! The Corrupt Mainstream Media loves to keep pushing that narrative, but they know it is not true!” Trump tweeted.
But in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt last year, Trump said that the Russia investigation was on his mind when he decided to fire Comey. “When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story,'” Trump said in the interview.
Trump’s tweet comes hours after news reports of a memo written by former acting F.B.I. director Andrew G. McCabe suggesting that Comey’s firing was related to the Russia investigation. In this memo, McCabe, who was fired by Trump in March, described a conversation last May with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about a memo Rosenstein was drafting about Comey’s mismanagement of the F.B.I. According to the McCabe memo, which was first reported by the New York Times, Rosenstein claimed that Trump wanted him to mention the Russia investigation in this official rebuke. Rosenstein instead described Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email servers.
According to the Times story, McCabe believed that Rosenstein may have been providing a cover story for Trump, and that Comey’s firing was in fact impelled by the Russia investigation.
From the start of his presidency, Trump has rejected any implication of impropriety or collusion with Russian actors during the 2016 presidential campaign. He regularly refers to the ongoing special counsel investigation helmed by Robert Mueller as a “witch hunt.”