Trump threatens to cancel briefings for ‘sake of accuracy’
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump lashed out in a series of tweets Friday morning amid a firestorm over the abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey, defending the shifting narrative and timeline his administration has offered for the decision.
He questioned whether his administration should cancel all future press briefings and, instead, replace them with written responses to questions, “for the sake of accuracy.”
The president’s advisers said this week that Trump fired Comey on Tuesday in response to a recommendation by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Later, however, they said that Trump had planned to fire Comey regardless.
The president tweeted, “As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!”
He added, “Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future ‘press briefings’ and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???”
The decision to fire Comey amid an ongoing FBI investigation into ties between the Russian government and members of Trump’s 2016 campaign has raised concerns that Trump was trying to undermine a probe that could threaten his presidency.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisted the information she and her colleagues offered was consistent. “It was a quick-moving process,” she said. “We took the information we had as best we have it and got it out to the American people as quickly as we could.”
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Tuesday that Rosenstein drafted the memo raising concerns about Comey on his own accord. The next day, Sanders said the president asked Rosenstein to put his concerns in writing.
The White House also changed its narrative about whether the president had decided to fire Comey based on the recommendations by Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
At first, the administration said that Rosenstein “made the recommendation, the president made a swift and decisive action and let Comey go.”
Later, the president and his advisers said Trump had planned to fire Comey since taking office.
The White House also shifted its stance on whether Comey’s termination had anything to do with the Russia investigation, at first saying it was not linked. Later, Sanders said, “We want this to come to its conclusion, we want it to come to its conclusion with integrity.”
“And we think that we’ve actually, by removing Director Comey, taken steps to make that happen,” she added.
Earlier Friday, Trump reiterated his view that reports about collusion with the Russian government by members of his 2016 campaign are “fabricated.”
The president tweeted, “Again, the story that there was collusion between the Russians & Trump campaign was fabricated by Dems as an excuse for losing the election.”
“The Fake Media is working overtime today!” he added.
The latest tweets are not the first time the administration has threatened to limit media access. During the transition, Trump’s advisers floated the idea of moving the media from the White House to the nearby Executive Office Building to accommodate media interest. But many interpreted it as a move to limit media access.
Jeff Mason, the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, responded to the president’s tweets, saying that the White House briefings and press conferences “conducted in full view of our republic’s citizens, is clearly in line with the spirit of the First Amendment.”
“Doing away with briefings would reduce accountability, transparency, and the opportunity for Americans to see that, in the U.S. system, no political figure is above being questioned,” he said.