The White House has abandoned the idea of President Trump visiting FBI headquarters after being told he would not be greeted warmly, administration officials told NBC News.
Amid the continuing fallout over his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, Trump was considering an appearance at the FBI’s J Edgar Hoover Building in downtown Washington, DC. The White House publicly floated the idea as recently as Thursday morning.
Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, asked by a reporter whether such a visit was imminent, replied, I believe that it’s very likely that takes place sometime in the next few days.”
But that idea was dropped later Thursday, administration officials said, after the FBI told the White House the optics would not be good. FBI officials made clear that the president would not draw many smiles and cheers, having just unceremoniously sacked a very popular director.
So just a short time ago, NBC released footage of its interview with the President conducted by Lester Holt. In that interview Trump is crystal clear that he decided to fire Comey entirely on his own. He asked Rosenstein to write out his views. But he was going to fire Comey regardless. That specifically contradicts what Pence said in an impromptu press conference yesterday on Capitol Hill.
Trump is like a wild fire hose whipping about violently, driven not by coils and water pressure but his own demons and rage. He will say whatever he wants at any given moment based on emotion, impulse, and his impression of tactical advantage as of that moment. This is not strategy. It’s an out of control person. But there are now large numbers of people and institutions implicated in Trump’s actions. They are on the line and along for the ride with every twist and turn.
The chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, who has been sharply critical of the F.B.I., questioned whether the time was right to dismiss Mr. Comey, arguing that doing it later would lessen the backlash, and urged him to delay, according to two people familiar with his thinking. Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, at one point mulled similar concerns, but was supportive of the move to the president.
If you are among the millions of Americans who are alarmed at the fact that the sitting President of the United States, in the midst of an active FBI investigation into his potentially criminal conduct, fired the director of the FBI for a proffered reason that could charitably be described as astonishingly and insultingly pretextual, I hope that you can take even the smallest measure of schadenfreudian joy knowing that beleaguered White House Press Secretary and noted World War II historian Sean Spicer is enjoying this disaster exactly as much as you are. From the Washington Post’s incredible postmortem on how the White House scrambled to react Tuesday’s news:
White House press secretary Sean Spicer wrapped up his brief interview with Fox Business from the White House grounds late Tuesday night and then disappeared into the shadows, huddling with his staff behind a tall hedge. To get back to his office, Spicer would have to pass a swarm of reporters wanting to know why President Trump suddenly decided to fire the FBI director.
To be clear, that’s the White House’s press secretary cowering in the bushes, like a terrified stand-up comic grappling with a last-minute bout of stage fright, because he is afraid of talking to the press.
After Spicer spent several minutes hidden in the bushes behind these sets, Janet Montesi, an executive assistant in the press office, emerged and told reporters that Spicer would answer some questions, as long as he was not filmed doing so.