During a wide-ranging interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity Wednesday night, Rudy Giuliani – a recent addition to the president’s legal team – said former FBI Director James Comey was fired in part because he would not confirm that President Trump was not a criminal target of the Russia investigation.
Giuliani’s admission is but one more in a growing list of motives Trump and his legal team have provided for the rationale behind Comey’s termination.
“He fired Comey because Comey would not, among other things, say that he wasn’t a target of the investigation,” Mr Giuliani told the cable network’s Sean Hannity, who has himself been a vocal supporter of Mr Trump.
“He’s entitled to that. Hillary Clinton got that and he couldn’t get that,” Giuliani said, apparently referring to Mr Comey’s decision to announce that the FBI had concluded its investigation into Ms Clinton’s emails during the 2016 campaign.
“So he fired him and he said, ‘I’m free of this guy,’” Mr Giuliani said.
Trump has at times maintained that his decision to fire Comey was not related to the Russia probe, but in an interview with Lester Holt not long after Comey’s dismissal, Trump indicated the investigation was a factor in his course of action:
“Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey,” Trump said during that interview with NBC News, referring to the alleged recommendation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire the former FBI director. “There was no good time to do it.”
“And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story,’” Trump continued during the NBC interview.
Initially, the White House had insisted that Comey’s firing was due to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s determination that Comey’s job performance was an issue; however, Rosenstein later indicated that Trump appeared to have made up his mind prior to the recommendation he drafted.
Giuliani’s statements on Wednesday could further show that Trump was attempting to obstruct justice in his decision to dismiss the former FBI director.