It had already been a long week for those managing President Trump’s media relations, and now he has threatened to cancel White House press briefings altogether. In a series of tweets Friday, the President chided the media for their focus on discrepancies in the official White House message about the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
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“As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!” Trump tweeted. This message came as media outlets reveled in the contradictions between the messages being delivered in press conferences and the President’s own tweets.
“Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future “press briefings” and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???”
All of this centers around the rational the White House has given for President Trump’s decision to fire Comey. The Department of Justice’s explanation that Comey had overstepped his bounds in the handling of the Hillary Clinton email scandal seemed at odds with President Trump’s praise for how Comey had handled the situation. Speculation pointed to the ongoing investigation of Russian ties to the Trump campaign.
His threat to halt the press conferences was one of two threats that Trump made on Friday. The second concerned Comey himself.
“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
The relationship between Trump and Comey has been heavily scrutinized in the last week, much more so than it previously had. Fox News is reporting that the two had a private dinner in New York. Just what Comey may have to available to leak remains uncertain. Just what President Trump could have on his own “tapes” is also mere conjecture.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer explained that the President’s decision to fire Comey was based entirely on written recommendation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. “That was a DOJ decision,” Spicer said.
This rational was echoed by the Vice President. “Let me be very clear that the President’s decision to accept the recommendation of the deputy attorney general and the attorney general to remove Director Comey as the head of the FBI was based solely and exclusively on his commitment to the best interests of the American people and to ensuring that the FBI has the trust and confidence of the people of this nation.”
“I think it’s real simple,” Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. “The Deputy Attorney General…made a very strong recommendation. The president followed it and he made a quick and decisive action to fire James Comey.”
The message from President Trump, though, refutes those statements. After firing Comey, Trump has called the former FBI Director a “showboat” and “grandstander.”
“I was going to fire regardless of recommendation,” Trump said.
Why he decided to fire Comey remains shrouded in speculation. That speculation now has a new angle, too, in just what Comey may have to leak regarding the Trump administration.