White House Does Not Dispute Report
Minutes after Air Force One took off, headed for an eight-day trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Rome, and Brussels, two bombshell reports were published. One, from theÂ Washington Post, includes the stunning news that the investigation into the Russians' interference in the U.S. election now includesÂ a current senior White House official close to the president as a significant person of interest.
The second is possibly even more staggering in the long-term.
PresidentÂ Donald Trump, in a closed-door Oval Office meeting, told top Russian officials that he had fired FBI Director James Comey the day before, and deride him as a "nut job."
"I just fired the head of the F.B.I.," The New York Times reported Friday afternoon. "He was crazy, a real nut job,â€ Trump said. â€œI faced great pressure because ofÂ Russia. Thatâ€™s taken off."
("Nut job" has been trending on Twitter ever since the news broke.)
Trump (above in photo taken during meeting with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, considered a top Russian spy by U.S. intelligence),Â reiterated his claim that he is not under investigation.
Trump's statement "reinforces the notion that Mr. Trump dismissed [Comey] primarily because of the bureauâ€™s investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russian operative," the Times notes.
Also surprising, the White House offered no pushback.
On Twitter, many responded with outrage, while others expressed beliefs the news supports the case for impeachment and/or obstruction of justice:
U.S. Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy:
This is what OBSTRUCTION looks like: â€œI faced great pressure because of Russia. Thatâ€™s taken off.â€ https://t.co/8ktKsQ03Ufâ€” Sen. Patrick Leahy (@SenatorLeahy) May 19, 2017
6. Trump fired Comey hoping to CHANGE THE COURSE OF AN INVESTIGATION that IMPACTED HIM, PERSONALLYâ€” Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) May 19, 2017
8. The version of events that establishes this is NO LONGER UNDER DISPUTE. How many members of Congress think its OK?â€” Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) May 19, 2017
Oh. My. God. https://t.co/1lNhZYn317â€” Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) May 19, 2017
We've just learned (1) a WH official is person of interest in FBI case (2) Trump bragged to Russians about killing FBI investigation.â€” Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) May 19, 2017
It is legally problematic in the extreme if evidence suggests Trump saw firing Comey as "taking care" of Russia inquiry.â€” Ari Melber (@AriMelber) May 19, 2017
This is explicit White House confirmation that Comey was fired to ease relations with Russia. Sufficient evidence to impeach the president. https://t.co/vsf4AO0U6Râ€” Will Saletan (@saletan) May 19, 2017
This photo, shot by none other than the Russians, is looking like one of the most iconic of Trump's presidency pic.twitter.com/UZlav6b2qoâ€” Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) May 19, 2017
What have we come to when the president trashes the head of the FBI to a foreign adversary? https://t.co/g2SD7Eu1MWâ€” Lois Romano (@loisromano) May 19, 2017
I'm not a lawyer, but if I had to explain obstruction of justice I'd describe exactly what Trump just did with #Comey and the Russians.â€” Peter Daou (@peterdaou) May 19, 2017
My Friends.â€” Shaun King (@ShaunKing) May 19, 2017
This is a crime. This is obstruction of justice. The evidence is now overwhelming.
Is this not the definition of obstruction? Is he not all but conceding the fact AGAIN?!!? https://t.co/VvePyvZxNUâ€” Don Cheadle (@DonCheadle) May 19, 2017
Poetic justice will be if Ex-president Trump must fly home commercial, just like ex-Director Comeyâ€” David Frum (@davidfrum) May 19, 2017
UPDATE: 5:44 PM EDTÂ â€“
Former Hillary Clinton Press Secretary:
This is basically an admission of obstruction of justice, and Mueller's likely to take it both seriously & literallyhttps://t.co/zg2JIdd4VEâ€” Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) May 19, 2017
CNN Senior Legal Analyst:
Trump statement in new @nytimes story is close to a confession to obstruction of justiceâ€” Jeffrey Toobin (@JeffreyToobin) May 19, 2017Â
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