The White House has been insisting ardently since Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey on Tuesday afternoon that the initiative to ax Comey came from newly confirmed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Here’s spokesman Sean Spicer on Tuesday night:
It was all [Rosenstein] … No one from the White House.
Here’s vice president Mike Pence on Wednesday morning:
The president took strong and decisive leadership here to put the safety and security of the American people first by accepting the recommendation of the deputy attorney general to remove Director Comey as the head of the FBI … The president’s leadership here I think represents the kind of strong leadership that the American people expect. The American people expect a president to act on the recommendations of those within the administration who are charged with oversight.
And here’s spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday afternoon:
SANDERS: [Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions] had come to him to express their concerns. The president asked they put those concerns and their recommendation in writing, which is the letter that you guys have received.
REPORTER: So it’s the White House’s assertion that Rod Rosenstein decided on his own, after being confirmed, to review Comey’s performance?
Above, you can see Trump tell NBC anchor Lester Holt that he had already decided to fire Comey before he ever met with Rosenstein and that he would have fired him regardless of what Rosenstein said. Said the president: “I was going to fire Comey, my decision. … I was going to fire Comey. I was going to fire regardless of recommendation. … He made a recommendation, but regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.”