White House defends Comey firing, meets with Russian Minister

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FILE – In this Dec. 9, 2015 file photo, FBI Director James Comey prepares to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington. President Donald Trump abruptly fired Comey May 9, 2017, dramatically ousting the nation’s top law enforcement official in the midst of an FBI investigation into whether Trump’s campaign had ties to Russia’s election meddling. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Backlash and bickering in Washington one day after the U.S. President abruptly fired the country’s top law enforcement official.

Jim Comey’s department, the FBI, is investigating alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia. He is only the second FBI director to be fired.

On Wednesday, a meeting was held in the Oval Office between Russia’s top diplomat and President Trump.

CGTN’s Jessica Stone reports.
Follow Jessica Stone on Twitter @JessicaStoneTV

White House defends Comey firing, meets with Russian Minister

Backlash and bickering in Washington one day after the U.S. President abruptly fired the country's top law enforcement official. Jim Comey's department, the FBI, is investigating alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia. He is only the second FBI director to be fired. On Wednesday, a meeting was held in the Oval Office between Russia's top diplomat and President Trump. CGTN's Jessica Stone reports.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters, Wednesday, that U.S. President Donald Trump had been considering “letting [FBI] Director James Comey since the day he was elected.”

This runs counter to what Press Secretary Sean Spicer said to reporters Tuesday night. According to the Washington Post’s account, the president didn’t request a probe of Comey’s leadership of the FBI, but received a written recommendation to fire him from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein which he swiftly followed on Tuesday.

Comey led the FBI’s investigation into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. He reportedly had recently asked the U.S. Congress for more resources to run that investigation. The Department of Justice denies those reports.

As recently as two weeks ago, Trump gave no sign he had doubts about Comey, expressing confidence in his leadership of the FBI. Wednesday, he gave a different answer. Flanked by U.S. President Richard Nixon’s Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, he took questions in the Oval Office about his decision.

“He wasn’t doing a good job. Very simply. He was not doing a good job,” Trump said.

But adding to the intrigue, on the same day Trump defended his firing of the leader of an investigation into his administration’s ties to Russia, Trump kept a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Ivanavoic Kislyak in the Oval Office. It was the highest –level meeting to date between the US president and Russian officials.

Democrats are calling for a special prosecutor to launch an independent investigation into Comey’s termination.

“As I reflect on the decision to dismiss Director Comey,” said California Senator Dianne Feinstein, “ I’ve become incredulous thinking about the ongoing FBI investigation into Russia’s interference with our presidential election, and the possible connections to associates of the Trump campaign and administration.”

Earlier in the day, Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence defended the decision on Capitol Hill, seeking to put distance between the administration and reports that Comey had just requested additional resources to expand his Russia probe.

“Let me be very clear,” he told reporters, “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 interest of the American people.”

Comey – now a private citizen – has been invited to testify in front of Congress – next week. There is already a search for his replacement.