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Before firing Comey, Trump was reportedly so angry about the Russia case he'd 'scream at television clips'

The Week logo The Week 5/10/2017 Peter Weber
Trump and James Comey, in happier times © Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images Trump and James Comey, in happier times

If you were shocked by the news that President Trump had fired FBI Director James Comey, you were in good company — so was James Comey, everyone at the FBI, most members of Congress, and apparently almost everyone in the White House. Trump and his top advisers who did know, Politico reports, were mostly surprised that not everyone thought firing Comey was a great idea. "White House officials believed it would be a 'win-win' because Republicans and Democrats alike have problems with the FBI director," Politico says, citing a person briefed on their deliberations. "By Tuesday evening, the president was watching the coverage of his decision and frustrated no one was on TV defending him. ... Instead, advisers were attacking each other for not realizing the gravity of the situation as events blew up."

In fact, Trump had been planning to oust Comey for at least a week, The New York Times and CNN report, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions had been charged with finding a good pretext. The president was increasingly incensed at the FBI's investigation into his orbit's ties to Russia during the election, Politico and The Wall Street Journal report. With understaffed investigations languishing in Congress, the FBI's investigation was the most active and serious.

Trump specifically "grew unhappy that the media spotlight kept shining on the director," and "questioned whether his expanding media profile was warping his view of the Russia investigation," White House officials tell The Wall Street Journal. "A person with knowledge of recent conversations said they wanted Mr. Comey to 'say those three little words: There's no ties,'" and he did not. Trump was also angry that Comey "wouldn't support his claims that President Barack Obama had tapped his phones in Trump Tower" and refused to prioritize inquiries into the leaking of information that made Trump look bad, Politico reports, but the main irritant was Russia:

[Trump] had grown enraged by the Russia investigation, two advisers said, frustrated by his inability to control the mushrooming narrative around Russia. He repeatedly asked aides why the Russia investigation wouldn't disappear and demanded they speak out for him. He would sometimes scream at television clips about the probe, one adviser said. [Politico]

You can read more at Politico, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.

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