September 23, 2018

White House unaware of deputy lawyer’s ‘threat to quit over Comey’

36The White House says it is unaware whether the deputy attorney general threatened to quit after he was blamed for the FBI chief’s sacking.
Rod Rosenstein reportedly was on the verge of resigning after the White House cast him as the prime catalyst to fire James Comey, US media reported.
He detailed Mr Comey’s “serious mistakes” in a memo to President Donald Trump, just prior to the firing.
The sacking of Mr Comey has ignited a firestorm of criticism.
Democrats have called for a special prosecutor to take over the probe of alleged links between the Trump election team and Moscow, which Mr Comey was heading.
Mr Rosenstein reportedly made his threat unless the White House conveyed that the decision began with the president, according to US media.
“I’m not aware of his threatening to resign,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on ABC’s programme Good Morning America on Thursday.
She maintained that Mr Trump “very much had been thinking about letting Mr Comey go since 9 November”.
Comey: Four theories for the axe
Are Democrats being hypocrites?
Trump’s high-profile sackings
Lawmakers in Washington are reeling after the White House abruptly removed Mr Comey on Tuesday for his handling of the inquiry over Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Critics accuse the Republican president of firing the nation’s top law enforcement official because he was leading the Russia inquiry.
Senior Democrats have also said they believed Mr Comey had recently asked the justice department for more resources for the FBI Trump-Russia investigation, which they say could have prompted his dismissal.
The White House has rejected the calls to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate allegations the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin over last year’s election.
Acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director, was due to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday on the panel’s annual hearing on worldwide threats.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has also invited Mr Comey to testify next week.
In a farewell letter to staff, Mr Comey said he would not “spend time on the decision or the way it was executed”.
“I have long believed that a president can fire an FBI Director for any reason, or for no reason at all,” he wrote.
President Trump defended his actions on Wednesday, saying Mr Comey was fired “because he was not doing a good job”.
But Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein said she “understood” that Mr Comey had asked Mr Rosenstein for more resources for the FBI investigation.
Another Democratic Senator, Richard Durbin, told US media be believed the reports to be true, although Justice department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores rejected them as “totally false”.
Republicans and Democrats vowed the House and Senate Intelligence Committees’ investigations into the Russia claims would continue.
The Senate Intelligence Committee moved forward by issuing a rare subpoena for documents from Michael Flynn, Mr Trump’s former national security adviser, after he rejected its request to do so in April.
Flynn: No stranger to controversy
Timeline of events
Russia: The scandal Trump can’t shake
Mr Flynn, a retired army lieutenant-general, misled the White House about discussing US sanctions against Russia with the country’s envoy, Sergei Kislyak, before Donald Trump’s inauguration in January.
His links to Russia are being scrutinised by the FBI and the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, as part of wider investigations into claims Moscow sought to tip the election in favour of Mr Trump, and into contacts between Russia and members of the president’s campaign team.
At the centre of the storm – Rod Rosenstein
52-year-old Harvard graduate confirmed by US Senate as Deputy Attorney General on 25 April
Had strong bi-partisan backing with 94-6 vote in his favour
Overseeing federal investigation of alleged Russian interference in November’s elections, after his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, recused himself over meetings with Moscow’s envoy in Washington
Appointed by President George W Bush as US attorney in Maryland and kept on by President Barack Obama
Reputation as apolitical and professional
Wrote memo detailing “serious mistakes” by Mr Comey, but did not expressly call for his removal
Threatened to resign after White House cast him as the prime mover in the firing, according to an anonymous source quoted by the Washington Post

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