Report: Mueller has unreleased Trump letter on Comey firing
The Justice Department has provided special counsel Robert Mueller with an early draft of a letter detailing President Trump’s rationale for firing FBI Director James Comey, The New York Times reported Friday.
The May letter, written by Trump and adviser Stephen Miller, was ultimately blocked by White House counsel Don McGahn, who believed some of its contents were problematic.
Instead, a different letter written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was sent, pinning the dismissal on Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
Mueller is currently conducting a wide-ranging investigation into Russian interference in the presidential campaign, including whether the president obstructed justice by firing Comey, who was previously in charge of the probe.
It is unknown how much of the rationale in the original letter focused on the Russia investigation. Shortly after Comey’s May 9 dismissal, the president told NBC’s Lester Holt that the probe had been on his mind when he made the decision to fire the FBI director.
“Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey,” Trump said during an interview on “NBC Nightly News,” adding, “There was no good time to do it.
“And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story,’ ” he said.
Miller, a former aide to Attorney General Jeff Sessions when he was in the Senate, reportedly drafted the letter at Trump’s request during a weekend visit in May to the president’s Bedminster, N.J., golf club.
During that same weekend, Sessions and Rosenstein were working a parallel effort to dismiss Comey, according to the Times.
Comey had recently given testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that it made him “mildly nauseous” to think his actions during the campaign might have impacted the outcome.
Comey had declared that there would be no charges against Clinton over her private email server before later alerting Congress that the FBI was examining new evidence 11 days before the election. Clinton has cited his letter to lawmakers as one of the reasons she lost.
Comey’s congressional testimony reportedly added to Rosenstein’s and Sessions’s concerns that the famously independent-minded director was overstepping the authority of his role.
The May 9 dismissal nevertheless set off a firestorm in Washington and led to the appointment of Mueller.
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