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White House defends backing Comey, then firing him

Posted at 3:08 PM, May 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-10 15:19:53-04

WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Sean Spicer said last week that President Donald Trump “has confidence” in FBI Director James Comey.

But on Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told CNN’s Jeff Zeleny that Spicer was “certainly not” lying on when he said Trump had faith in Comey, despite earlier in the briefing arguing that Trump has been considering firing the director ever since he was elected.

“Certainly not,” Sanders said when asked if Spicer lied. “You have somebody, the director of the FBI, who reports to the deputy attorney general, going around the chain of command, it is simply not OK, that is not something that is allowed in the justice system, nor should it be.”

Sanders went on to call it a “huge problem” but that the “final piece” was his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Spicer’s public vote of confidence from Comey came after the President claimed on Twitter that the FBI director gave former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a “free pass” by not going after her more on her use of a private email server.

“The President has confidence … in the director,” Spicer had said. “But I think, clearly, his point was, after some of the comments that were made yesterday, regarding the reason for the outcome of the election, I think he just wanted to make it clear what exactly happened.”

The claim that Trump had confidence in Comey last week flies in the face of an earlier statement by Sanders, who told reporters Wednesday that Trump lost confidence in the former FBI director over several months and had been considering firing him since taking office in January.

“The President has lost confidence in Director Comey and, frankly, he’d been considering letting Director Comey go since the day he was elected,” she said.

Sanders went on to say Wednesday that Trump did not regret firing Comey earlier because the President “wanted to give director Comey a chance.”

“No,” she said. “I believe the President wanted to give director Comey a chance, but he feels that he made the right decision.”