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|New York Daily News||-|
Trump's tweet read “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.
Trump’s Friday morning tweet — in which he wrote “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt” — showed that Trump “is trying to change his story” about firing Comey, which is bound to “really hurt him” in the probe, attorney Nick Akerman, who worked as an assistant special prosecutor during Watergate, explained to The News.
“He’s already admitted publicly himself that he’d already decided to fire Comey and has also said he did so to end the Russia investigation,” Akerman said, pointing to an interview Trump did with NBC News’ Lester Holt last month.
In that interview, Trump said, “regardless of recommendation I was going to fire Comey” and suggested one reason he got rid of Comey was because of his frustration over the FBI’s probe into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
“And in fact when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story,” he said then.
“So, now to have him come in here and make basically what is a false exculpatory statement ... that he was relying on Rosenstein's recommendation, that could be used against him,” he said.
“It’s the dumbest thing you can do,” he said. “And although it’s (the tweet) not very compelling, it could be used to help show his original motive.”
Following Comey's ouster, however, Rosenstein then appointed Mueller as a special prosecutor to take over the federal investigation into whether any Trump associates coordinated with Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 election. His probe has now reportedly zeroed in on whether Trump attempted to obstruct justice when he fired Comey.
Painter, meanwhile, explained to The News Friday that Trump’s latest tweet also signals he is trying to lay the groundwork for a case to have Rosenstein recuse himself — which would further complicate, or delay the progress of, any potential case against him.
“I think he’s trying to force Rosenstein to quit his job or recuse himself, and then maybe somewhere down the line someone other than Rosenstein is supervising Mueller,” he said.
In a foreboding sign, Rosenstein privately admitted to colleagues that he may have to recuse himself from the ongoing federal probe ABC News reported Friday.
If Rosenstein were to recuse himself, Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand — who other than Rosenstein and Sessions is the only other Senate-confirmed official in the entire agency at the moment — would take over his responsibilities.