Trump: I was going to fire Comey anyway … White House wants Russia investigation to ‘come to its conclusion’ … Trump channels Rosie O’Donnell

CNN Politics:  Nightcap
May 11, 2017   |   by Eric Bradner and Daniella Diaz

Trump: I was going to fire Comey anyway

For two days, the White House pointed to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein‘s letter criticizing FBI Director James Comey‘s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation as the basis for President Donald Trump‘s firing of Comey. Vice President Mike Pence even went to Capitol Hill and cited Rosenstein’s recommendation repeatedly. 

Turns out, it was all bogus. “I was going to fire Comey,” Trump told NBC News’ Lester Holt in an interview today. “Regardless of the recommendation I was going to fire Comey.”

So why did Trump really fire Comey? This surprising admission, from deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at today’s press briefing, on the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, seems more on target. “We want this to come to its conclusion, we want it to come to its conclusion with integrity,” she said. “And we think that we’ve actually, by removing Director Comey, taken steps to make that happen.”

FBI vs. the White House: Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe appeared at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing today — and he rejected the White House’s repeated claims that morale at the FBI had dropped under Comey’s leadership. “No, that is not accurate,” McCabe said. CNN’s Tom LoBianco rounds up the hearing’s highlights.


“It could be my fault. I don’t want to necessarily blame, but there’s a great meanness out there that I’m surprised at.”


— President Donald Trump, discussing America’s political climate in an interview with TIME Magazine.


President Donald Trump, who mercilessly attacked Rosie O’Donnell on Twitter before he entered politics, cited a December 2016 tweet today in an effort to highlight the left’s anger at fired FBI Director James Comey.

How presidential tweets are made? BuzzFeed editor Brandon Wall pointed out that the old O’Donnell tweet was dug up and posted on a Trump-focused subreddit just 20 minutes before Trump’s tweet.

Chris Cillizza’s take: “Now, it’s easy to laugh at Trump’s decision to re-engage his long-simmering feud with O’Donnell. (It’s a good tweet and an expert troll, after all.) But, it should also give everyone pause. This is the president of the United States we are talking about. (I know I have said that three times. But it bears repeating!) He — and his administration — are in the midst of a self-inflicted crisis over the reasons for his decision to fire Comey. That he made time to troll Rosie O’Donnell says something about where his priorities and focus lie. And what it says is nothing good.

O’Donnell’s response:


Russians were laughing — but Trump’s wrong about why

President Donald Trump raised eyebrows with a tweet this afternoon speculating about Russia’s reaction to the controversy around his firing of FBI Director James Comey and the investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. 
Trump appears to have been watching CNN. On “The Lead,” Jake Tapper had just done a segment on Russia openly mocking the United States on social media. But it wasn’t for the reason Trump claimed. 

What this is really about: Yesterday’s Oval Office meeting between Trump, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak. No American journalists were allowed in the room — but a photographer from Russian state media was there, and that photographer’s photos set off a firestorm on social media.

One important thing: In its official readout of the meeting, the White House never mentioned that Kislyak — the man who Michael Flynn was fired for meeting — was there. We only know because of photos from Russian government-run media. 

Russia took a victory lap on social media, playing up photos with Trump in the White House. Lavrov’s official Twitter account even played up his joke about FBI Director James Comey‘s firing.

Privately, what’s the White House saying? Here’s CNN’s Jim Acosta:


New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft explained his friendship with President Donald Trump to Bloomberg, citing Trump’s phone calls and support after Kraft’s wife died.


3 things you might have missed today

ICE announces major anti-gang operation, mostly US citizens arrested: Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced its largest anti-gang operation ever, a six-week operation that netted more than 1,300 arrests nationwide. Though the effort was led by ICE, the focus was not exclusively on immigrants. Of the arrests, 933 were US citizens and 445 were foreign nationals, with 384 in the country illegally. More from CNN’s Tal Kopan.

Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein says he’s “not quitting”: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein denies he threatened to quit his post amid the firing of FBI Director James Comey and does not plan to resign. More from CNN’s Laura Jarrett, Tom LoBianco and Jeremy Herb.

Trump and Putin to meet in July, Russian state media says: President Donald Trump will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in July as part of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Russian state media said Thursday. It would be the two men’s first meeting since Trump took power in January. The White House has yet to confirm. More from CNN’s Ben Westcott and Tomas Etzler.


Here’s a timeline leading up to James Comey‘s firing and the fallout it unleashed. … The FBI has yet to post a job listing to fill Comey’s position — but if it does, here’s what an honest, imagined version might look like. … Former Rep. Corrine Brown, who represented Florida as a Democrat, was found guilty on federal charges related to a fake education charity.
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