by Inae Oh
Special counsel Robert Mueller has obtained a draft letter written by President Donald Trump that outlined his reasons for firing then-FBI director James Comey, the New York Times is reporting. The draft letter, which was co-written by senior adviser Stephen Miller, was never sent to Comey, thanks to the opposition of White House Counsel Don McGahn, who warned that the document was potentially problematic. From the Times:
The contents of the original letter appears to provide the clearest rationale that Mr. Trump had for firing Mr. Comey. It is unclear how much of Mr. Trump’s rationale focuses on the Russia investigation, although Mr. Trump told aides at the time he was angry that Mr. Comey refused to publicly say that Mr. Trump himself was not under investigation. Mr. Comey later said in testimony to Congress that the president was not under investigation.
The report on Friday again undermines the White House’s initial account of the events that lead to Comey’s dismissal. The White House originally claimed that Trump fired Comey because of a recommendation from deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein. That same week, Trump essentially blew up that narrative, telling NBC’s Lester Holt that it was his idea alone, not Rosenstein’s, to get rid of Comey.
“I was going to fire him regardless of recommendation,” he said. “He made a recommendation, but regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.”
The Washington Post has also confirmed the existence of the letter. Sources familiar with its contents said one of the reasons Trump listed was his frustration over Comey’s refusal to publicly say he was not under federal investigation.