White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed President Donald Trump did the country a "service" by firing former FBI Director James Comey after Comey slammed the president's conduct after he appeared before the House Judiciary and House Oversight committees in the panels' ongoing examination of the FBI and Justice Department's handling of both the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails and the alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives during the 2016 presidential election.
"So another day of Hillary Clinton’s emails and the Steele dossier. This while the President ... is lying about the FBI, attacking the FBI and attacking the rule of law in this country. How does that make any sense at all?” Comey told reporters.
"Republicans used to understand that the actions of a president matter,” Comey added. “The words of a president matter, the rule of law matters, and the truth matters. Where are those Republicans today?”
Sanders, who has long been criticized for serving as a mouthpiece for an administration besieged by near-daily scandals, soon fired back. She suggested Republicans should "stand up" to Comey and "his tremendous corruption."
Sanders claimed that President Trump "did the country a service by firing him and exposing him for the shameless fraud he is."
The president fired Comey on May 9, 2017, an action which, many legal experts say, constitutes grounds for an investigation of Trump for possible obstruction of justice. A New York Times report the following Monday revealed that Trump asked Comey to halt the criminal investigation into Michael Flynn, his former national security advisor. (Flynn would later plead guilty to lying to federal investigators about his conversations with Sergey Kislyak, the former Russian ambassador to the United States.)
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump told Comey, according to a memo Comey wrote immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Flynn resigned. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with Trump as part of a paper trail documenting the president’s “improper” efforts to impede the continuing investigation.
Sanders was savaged for her statements.
President Trump has made contradictory statements about his decision to fire Comey. Earlier this year, for example, he claimed that he "never fired James Comey because of Russia" and accused "The Corrupt Mainstream" of propagating a false narrative.
Numerous tweets have followed since then, of course, but there is video footage of the president claiming otherwise, as a clip shared by Senator Charles “Chuck” Schumer (D-NY) demonstrates.
"But regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it,” Trump says in the clip from an interview he gave to NBC News in May 2018. “And, in fact, when I decided to do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing, with Trump and Russia, is a made-up story, it’s an excuse.'”
MSNBC also shared the clip, noting that the president’s tweet contradicts what he told interviewer Lester Holt during his televised appearance.
Comey's testimony is expected to be released sometime tomorrow.