Trump And Sessions Praised The FBI Director For The Very Reason He Was Fired
Last year, Jeff Sessions said James Comey "had an absolute duty" to tell the public about a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails. Five months later it was one of the reasons cited for firing him.
Back in October, then-Sen. Jeff Sessions went on national television to defend FBI Director James Comey's decision to break with protocol and announce, in a press conference, it was reopening an investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Sessions used the same incident, cited by his deputy attorney general, to fire Comey.
"The Director of the FBI must be someone who follows faithfully the rules and principles of the Department of Justice and who sets the right example for our law enforcement officials and others in the Department," Sessions wrote in a letter to President Trump, recommending Comey be terminated.
Sessions was citing the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was appointed to his position two weeks earlier and on Tuesday criticized Comey in a three-page memo over his handling of the email investigation.
"The Director ignored another longstanding principle: we do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation," Rosenstein wrote. "The Director laid out his version of the facts for the news media as if it were a closing argument, but without a trial. It is a textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do."
But on Oct. 30, just days before the presidential election and before he was appointed attorney general, Sessions had a different opinion of Comey's decision.
"He had an absolute duty, in my opinion, 11 days [before the election] or not to come forward with the new information that he has and let the American people know that too," Sessions told Fox Business anchor Lou Dobbs.
Days later on Nov. 6, Sessions appeared again on cable news and defended the FBI director's decision to notify Congress and the public about the reopened investigation.
"FBI Director James Comey did the right thing," Sessions said.
Days later, Comey would announce there was no evidence to suggest criminal wrongdoing. At the time, however, Sessions said Comey had a duty to inform the public regardless of outcome.
"I'm sure it must have been significant, or he would not have announced that," he said.
Comey came under intense criticism, especially by Democrats, who said his announcement of an investigation would be detrimental to Clinton's campaign, and in effect politicized a federal law enforcement agency meant to stay out of democratic elections.
Sessions, however, would not be the only one to come to his defense at the time.
Trump, who made the ultimate decision to suddenly fire Comey on the same day the Department of Justice memo was issued, also repeatedly defended Comey's decision.
"It took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made," Trump said at a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Oct. 31. "It took a lot of guts."
Trump said during that rally that his opinion of Comey had changed.
"What he did, he brought back his reputation," Trump said.
Since taking office, however, Trump's view of the now-former head of the FBI changed once more.
Last week, he said Comey had been "the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton" for his decision not to press for criminal charges.