Robert Gates on Comey: Trump should have had his 'ducks in a row'

Robert Gates on Comey: Trump should have had his 'ducks in a row'
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Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that President Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey was “not terribly well done.”

“You know, I fired a lot of senior people myself and I think the key, when you feel compelled to remove a senior official, is essentially to have all your ducks in a row at the beginning,” he said in an interview for CBS News's "Face the Nation" released Friday.

“It’s always going to be contentious,” Gates added. “[But] it’s to have the rationale, have everybody understand what the rationale was.”

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“But having a single story in line in terms of how it happened and why it happened, that everybody is on the same page, and then what the next steps are I think helps to diminish the blowback they you get.”

Gates, who served under former presidents George W. Bush and Barack ObamaBarack ObamaOvernight Cybersecurity: Trump tweetstorm on Russia probe | White House reportedly pushing to weaken sanctions bill | Podesta to testify before House Intel OPINION: Trump’s bluff: Perfectly legal Overnight Regulation: Senate Banking panel huddles with regulators on bank relief | FCC proposes 2M fine on robocaller | Yellowstone grizzly loses endangered protection MORE, said it is beneficial to have a candidate “who is going to step into the interim immediately.”

“For that to be somebody of impeccable integrity and reputation disarms a lot of the worst criticism that it’s some kind of power play.”

The Trump administration struggled this week to explain the circumstances surrounding Comey's firing.

Trump undercut the official White House account on Thursday when he said he would have fired the FBI chief regardless of a recommendation from Attorney General Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsOvernight Cybersecurity: Trump tweetstorm on Russia probe | White House reportedly pushing to weaken sanctions bill | Podesta to testify before House Intel Grassley: Comey must say if FBI investigated Sessions Gingrich: Media was right, special elections were a referendum MORE and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein.

Comey’s firing came as the FBI probes Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race, including possible ties between Moscow and Trump’s campaign.