The White House argued Thursday that its account of the events surrounding the firing of FBI Director James Comey is "consistent" despite the emergence of contradictions and competing accounts in recent days.
"If you want to talk about people in the dark, our story is consistent," White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during the daily White House press briefing. "The people that are in the dark today are the Democrats."
The White House has struggled since Tuesday with a slew of contradicting reports regarding the circumstances leading up to Comey's abrupt ouster from the FBI.
President Trump further muddled the administration's account, telling NBC's Lester Holt in an interview that aired Thursday that he had decided to fire Comey regardless of the Justice Department's recommendation.
"Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey," Trump said.
That contradicts previous claims made in documents released shortly after Comey was fired, including a statement from White House press secretary Sean Spicer that said Trump "acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits McCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Overnight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability MORE."
Likewise, Vice President Pence told reporters on Wednesday that Trump had made his decision based on "the recommendation of the deputy attorney general."
Trump's words, however, lend credence to accounts that the president had decided to fire Comey before asking Rosenstein to lay out, in writing, the case against the FBI director.
But Sanders attributed the discrepancy to the fact that she hadn't received all the relevant information on Wednesday, when she said Trump had acted on the advice of Rosenstein.
"I think it’s pretty simple, I hadn’t had a chance to have the conversation directly with the president," Sanders said. "I went off the information I had."
According to The Wall Street Journal, Rosenstein asked that the White House correct the record about his role in the firing.
Rosenstein objected to Trump administration aides citing his criticism of Comey’s performance to justify his dismissal, the Journal reported Thursday, and called White House counsel Don McGahn about it.
A major source of Rosenstein’s stress was purportedly White House aides reiterating that Comey’s firing was in response to a Justice Department recommendation.
Also at issue is the White House's claim that Trump fired Comey because he had lost confidence in him to lead the bureau, and had wanted to get rid of FBI director since the day he was elected.
Trump in January asked Comey to remain at the FBI. And just last week, Spicer asserted that the president had full confidence in Comey's ability to lead the top law enforcement agency.