During his train wreck of an interview on Hannity on Wednesday night, new Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani explained that the president fired then-FBI director James Comey because Comey refused to publicly announce that Trump “wasn’t a target” of the FBI’s investigation of his campaign.
There’s just one problem. Giuliani’s explanation for Comey’s firing differs from two previous ones that have already been offered by the White House — the official line, which was that Comey mishandled the Hillary Clinton email investigation; and the one Trump offered NBC’s Lester Holt, which was that he fired Comey because he was frustrated with the Russia investigation.
On Thursday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to reconcile team Trump’s shifting rationales for Comey’s firing. She responded with the verbal equivalent of the shrug emoji.
“There were a number of reasons that James Comey was fired. The president has named several of them,” Sanders said. “But the bottom line is, the president doesn’t have to justify his decision. The president has the authority to fire and hire, and I think every single day we’ve seen that he made the right decision in firing James Comey.”
Despite what Sanders would have you believe, the White House’s changing story could cause problems for Trump. Part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation pertains to whether Trump obstructed justice when he fired Comey amid an active FBI investigation into his campaign. The answer hinges on Trump’s motivations.
Trump himself has said contradictory things about why he fired Comey. Though he initially admitted he fired him because of the Russia investigation, Trump recently tried to walk that back in a tweet proclaiming that “the worst FBI Director in history, was not fired because of the phony Russia investigation where, by the way, there was NO COLLUSION (except by the Dems)!”
Slippery James Comey, the worst FBI Director in history, was not fired because of the phony Russia investigation where, by the way, there was NO COLLUSION (except by the Dems)!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2018
In that tweet, Trump did not cite a reason for Comey’s firing. The implication, however, is that Comey’s poor character justified his termination. Giuliani furthered that effort during his interview with Hannity, at one point calling Comey “a very perverted man.”