The firing of James Comey was a turning point in the Trump presidency. It led to the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel, whose investigation could now come full circle as it finishes its look at potential obstruction of justice. In fact, why James Comey was fired could play a big role in Mueller's investigation.
For now, it's definitely playing a big role in the former FBI director's media blitz surrounding the release of his book. In a recent interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, Comey explained that he didn't believe Trump's reasoning for firing him because it made "no sense at all."
The reason for why Comey was fired varies from what Trump has said in interviews, and also from what others, including Comey himself, think was the real reason. Trump noted in his official dismissal letter that he was firing Comey based on the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's recommendation.
Trump wrote to Comey that he had received the word from Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions recommending the FBI director be dismissed, and he said he "accepted their recommendation." Trump continued to mention that he was appreciative of Comey's insistence that Trump was not under investigation "on three separate occasions" but added, "I nevertheless concur with the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau."
"It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission," Trump continued, seeming to putting his concern for the FBI above all other considerations.
Rosenstein's report, which was used to justify the recommendation to fire Comey, ran down what the former FBI director had done regarding the investigation into Clinton's emails. Rosenstein wrote:
I cannot defend the Director's handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton's emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken. Almost everyone agrees that the Director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.
"I remember just thinking, 'This is a lie,'" Comey told Stephanopoulos about reading the letter. "The stuff about, you know, being fired because of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation, that makes no sense at all."
While some likely doubted that Trump fired Comey for mistreating Clinton, it could have been a reasonable explanation if Trump himself did not contradict that reasoning on national television.
Trump gave a different reason in an interview with NBC News' Lester Holt, saying his decision wasn't based solely on the recommendation from Rosenstein. “I was going to fire Comey," Trump told Holt. "My decision. I was going to fire Comey. There’s no good time to do it, by the way. I was going to fire regardless of recommendation.”
Then came the shocking admission. "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 told Holt. "It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won."
Trump recently has contradicted himself again to say that he did not fire Comey because of "this Russia thing" as he had told Holt. "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)!" Trump tweeted last week.