WASHINGTON - Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein threatened to resign from his position only two weeks after entering office, as a result of the White House's handling of the decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, according to a report published on Thursday morning in The Washington Post.
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The report, which did not garner a response from the Justice Department, said that Rosenstein was angry over the White House's claims on Tuesday that U.S. President Donald Trump fired Comey first and foremost because Rosenstein had recommended him to do so. This, while Rosenstein was asked by Trump to write a document assessing Comey's conduct in the Hillary Clinton investigation, but did not explicitly recommend the president to fire the FBI director.
The administration paired Comey's dismissal letter with a scathing review by Rosenstein of how the FBI director handled the investigation into Clinton’s email practices, including his decision to hold a news conference announcing its findings and releasing “derogatory information” about the Democratic candidate.
On Wednesday, the White House changed its narrative of the decision to fire Comey, and instead of claiming that it was a direct result of a recommendation by Rosenstein, stated that Trump had been considering to fire Comey ever since his election victory in November 2016. White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders accused Comey of committing "atrocities" and failing to do his job.
Trump’s firing of Comey throws into question the future of a counterintelligence investigation into his campaign’s possible connections to Russia. It immediately raised suspicions of an underhanded effort to stymie a probe that has shadowed the administration from the outset.
Democrats likened the firing to President Richard Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre” and renewed calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor, and some Republicans also questioned the move.
In a farewell letter, Comey said that he does not plan to dwell on the decision to fire him or the “way it was executed.”
Although he’ll be fine, he will miss the FBI and its mission “deeply,” he added.
In his Tuesday letter to Comey, U.S. President Trump said the firing was necessary to restore “public trust and confidence” in the FBI.
Comey's letter circulated among his friends and colleagues. It was posted online by CNN Wednesday night and a person who had seen the note confirmed the online version was authentic.
Comey also said that “in times of turbulence, the American people should see the FBI as a rock of competence, honesty, and independence.” He added that “it’s very hard to leave a group of people who are committed only to doing the right thing.”