Trump contradicts himself over Comey’s firing

© Reuters. Former FBI Director Comey arrives to discuss his book “A Higher Loyalty” in New York

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he did not fire James Comey “due to Russia’s false investigation,” contradicting his 2017 statement that he ousted the FBI director last year for the investigation.

“Both cannot be true,” Comey replied when asked about the president’s comments on ABC, adding that he still doesn’t know why Trump fired him last May.

“It is important that the president is not committed to the truth as a Central American value,” he said on the television network’s “The View” program.

Comey’s impeachment came as the FBI investigated alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign. The dismissal prompted the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller to lead the investigation and analyze a possible obstruction of justice.

Trump, who has denied collusion with Moscow, posted a tweet on Wednesday referring to “slippery James Comey” and said he “was not fired due to the false Russia investigation.” Trump did not elaborate.

US intelligence agencies have said that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections through a propaganda and piracy campaign in a plot to sow discord in the United States and help Trump get elected. Russia has denied interfering in the elections.

Trump had told Comey in a May 9 firing letter that he could not effectively lead the law enforcement agency. Two days later, Trump cited the Russia investigation in a televised interview with NBC News.

“In fact, when I decided to do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia with Trump and Russia is a made up story,” he told NBC. “It is an excuse from the Democrats for losing an election they should have won.”

The Republican president has stepped up his attacks on Comey, calling him a liar and “braggart,” as the former FBI director embarks on a media tour to promote his book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership.”

Comey’s book chronicles his brief service under Trump, whom he described as “morally unfit” to be president, while comparing his leadership style to that of a mob boss.

A longtime Republican who said he did not vote in 2016, Comey on Wednesday also said he no longer considered himself a member of the party. He told ABC that Republicans had made “a dangerous deal” to embrace Trump’s principles rather than uphold his conservative values.

Comey’s 10-year tenure as FBI director was scheduled to end in 2023.

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