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Trump says he didn't fire Comey as FBI director because of Russia investigation

By The Associated Press

This article was originally published April 18, 2018 at 11:10 a.m. Updated April 18, 2018 at 2:25 p.m.

president-donald-trump-speaks-during-a-meeting-with-japanese-prime-minister-shinzo-abe-sat-trumps-private-mar-a-lago-club-tuesday-april-17-2018-in-palm-beach-fla-ap-photopablo-martinez-monsivais

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sat Trump's private Mar-a-Lago club, Tuesday, April 17, 2018, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Donald Trump is again discussing his rationale for firing James Comey as FBI director last year.

In a Wednesday morning tweet sent as Comey promotes his criticism-filled new book, Trump says he "was not fired because of the phony Russia investigation." But in an interview days after the sudden firing, Trump revealed that the probe into potential collusion during the 2016 campaign was on his mind at the time he made the decision.

The White House's initial explanation for Trump's decision was Comey's handling of the Clinton email investigation, and it released a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein justifying the decision. But two days after firing Comey, Trump undercut that rationale.

In the interview with NBC on May 11, 2017, Trump said, "In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, 'You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.'"

Trump decided to fire Comey over the objections of his top advisers at the time, including chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Comey's firing, and Trump's subsequent suggestion that the Russia investigation was a factor in the decision, led Rosenstein to appoint special counsel Robert Mueller to oversee the investigation. Mueller is now investigating the Comey firing as part of an investigation of potential obstruction by the president.

Appearing Wednesday on ABC's The View, Comey said he doesn't know why Trump fired him. But he said the president's Wednesday tweet that Comey was not dismissed because of the "phony Russia investigation" illustrates a problem the former FBI director said he's been trying to highlight during his book-promotion tour.

"It matters that the president is not committed to the truth as a central American value," Comey said.

In an interview with ABC that aired Sunday, Comey said there is "certainly some evidence" that Trump had obstructed justice when Comey said the president pushed him to take a lenient stance toward former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty last year to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the United States.

Read Thursday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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hah406 says... April 18, 2018 at 11:33 a.m.

Trump didn't fire Comey because of the "phony Russia investigation." He fired him because of the REAL Russia investigation. Now that he is staring an obstruction of justice charge right in the face, he wants to try to un-say what he said. Too late, the proverbial cat is out of the bag. Perhaps if he weren't so impulsive and had any ability to just keep his mouth shut, Trump wouldn't be in this position.

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BOLTAR says... April 18, 2018 at 1:47 p.m.

Trump must have just now figured out his previous claim about firing Comey was problematic, or he would have told this lie long ago.

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Algarrett says... April 18, 2018 at 2:09 p.m.

Every time Trump opens his mouth, I'm reminded of how much he's an embarrassment to the entire civilized world and a serious threat to the future of democracy equal to some of the nastiest characters in history. How is it possible that this great country has elected the most irrational and despicable character possible?

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glh05230944 says... April 18, 2018 at 2:35 p.m.

Another day and another reason this mentally ill person should be removed by the most expeditious lawful means.

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Packman says... April 18, 2018 at 2:40 p.m.

Hey hah - Nah, you're wrong. President Trump fired Comey because of all the reasons Maxine Waters and Nancy Pelosi said he should be fired previously. You're argument isn't with President Trump, but Pelosi and Waters.
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Hey Algarrett - The biggest threat to our democracy is the current silent coup being conducted by Robert Mueller and other political elites to overturn the results of a valid democratic election and disenfranchise over 60 million voters. Our democracy is in fact in peril. Mueller, Rosenstein, and Sessions MUST be fired or the bloodless coup may not end up bloodless. #2A

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TimberTopper says... April 18, 2018 at 2:47 p.m.

Hey Packman, the only one here with a problem is you so far. Are you a liar like Trump, or do you have a man crush on Trump. I suspect a bit of both. Maybe you see yourself in this piece of human manure. If you do business as he does, may you pat a broke mans ass one day and it be yours! I'm thinking this lie is not going to hold up, not after all the video of him saying the opposite.

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BoudinMan says... April 18, 2018 at 4:15 p.m.

When you elect a clown as president, you have to expect his administration to be a circus.

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Packman says... April 18, 2018 at 4:22 p.m.

Timber offers only personal attack in lieu of even a smidgen of rebuttal. Point, game, set, match........winning is so easy.

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BOLTAR says... April 18, 2018 at 4:42 p.m.

Anyone who feels they must referee their own game identifies himself as the loser.

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TimberTopper says... April 18, 2018 at 6:53 p.m.

Hey Packy you are wrong again. You cannot take away the words of the POTUS in an interview, and then again his words when talking with the Russians he had solved the Comey problem. So you can set, match, and declare yourself to be a winner, but that is as usual not the case. Keep up your losing ways!

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