Jeebus, Preznint Stupid put it in writing:
Washington (CNN)The special counsel investigating potential ties between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia has obtained a draft of a letter that explains reasons why Trump planned to fire former FBI Director James Comey, The New York Times reported Friday.
The Justice Department turned over a copy of the letter, which was drafted by Trump and top aide Stephen Miller, to Mueller in recent weeks, the Times reported, citing interviews with a dozen administration officials and others briefed on the matter.
Axios morning email thingie picks up the thread:
Schmidt and Haberman broke the story yesterday that Mueller has obtained a draft of a letter (never sent) “which Mr. Trump had composed with Stephen Miller,” giving “an unvarnished view” of why he was planning to fire Comey:
- “McGahn, … the White House counsel, [was concerned by] references to private conversations the president had with Mr. Comey, including times when the F.B.I. director told Mr. Trump he was not under investigation in the F.B.I.’s continuing Russia inquiry.”
- “McGahn successfully blocked the president from sending the letter … to Mr. Comey. But a copy was given to the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, who then drafted his own letter.
- “Rosenstein’s letter was ultimately used as the Trump administration’s public rationale for Mr. Comey’s firing, which was that Mr. Comey had mishandled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.”
What Trump’s lawyers can argue: These were Miller’s views, not Trump’s. What matters is the advice he got from his lawyers, who told him he did have grounds for the dismissal, and prepared the justification.
It’s not like we learn anything new here, but it confirms what we already knew: Comrade Preznint Stupid couldn’t be talked out of it.
Another slightly delicious detail: Mike Pence, the man so wooden that termites salivate when he enters a room, was aware the entire time of what was going on:
- What’s new: According to the N.Y. Times’ Michael Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, Vice President Pence was in the Oval Office on May 8 when Trump “announced that he had decided to fire Mr. Comey,” which he did the next day, and read from an aide’s “angry, meandering” draft memo outlining a justification.
- More detail, from the WashPost’s lead story, matching the NYT: “At the Oval Office meeting, … Trump described his draft termination letter to top aides who wandered in and out of the room, including then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, White House Counsel Donald McGahn and senior adviser Hope Hicks.”
- “Pence arrived late, after the meeting had begun. They were also joined by [the author of the draft, senior policy adviser Stephen] Miller and … Jared Kushner, both of whom had been with Trump over the weekend in Bedminster [N.J.]. Kushner supported the president’s decision.”
So much for the claim that Pence is both clean as a whistle AND that his political instincts are moderating Comrade Stupid’s behavior. So he was there when what has to be the most ham-handed blunder yet from The Blunder Factory originated.