The official explanation given by the White House for President Donald Trump's May 9 decision to fire FBI director James Comey is being questioned.
According to CNN, Trump made the decision based on advice from deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who cited concerns about the way Comey handled the investigation of Hillary Clinton's emails.
Rosenstein's memo, dated May 9, criticized Comey over the Clinton inquiry for having "Release(d) derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation," CNN reported.
But sources said that the White House was unhappy the FBI's investigation into Russia's alleged influence in the 2016 presidential election was being accelerated.
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Trump was also supposedly frustrated that Comey had not shown him personal loyalty.
CNN alleged that Trump had been thinking about firing Comey for about a week prior to ultimately making the decision.
"FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds! The phony..." Trump tweeted May 2.
He also took issue that day with the allegations of Russian interference in the election.
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"...Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election. Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign?" the president tweeted.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway rejected the idea that Trump's removal of Comey had been long in the making.
"This whole thing is very simple -- you're trying to make it very complex," Conway told CNN. "This is a president who saw that the FBI director had lost the public confidence, the confidence of Republicans and Democrats."
She went on to challenge the questioning of the president's actions.
"You want to question the timing of when the president fires, when he hires. It's inappropriate," Conway added. "He'll do it when he wants to, just like he fired FBI Director Comey when he was faced with evidence that was unignorable."
Another question raised by Comey's firing is the role of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation as it concerned U.S. political campaigns after failing to acknowledge several meetings he had during the election campaign with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak.
However, Sessions called for Comey's firing and also forwarded the letter from Rosenstein to Trump May 9.
Former FBI agents have voiced their concern about Trump's decision.
Comey's firing was "a punch in the stomach to agents," retired FBI agent Bobby Shacon told the Guardian.
"I myself, and I would speak for a lot of agents, feel very disrespected by the administration and how this was handled," he added.
Shacon noted that Comey was giving a speech to FBI agents in Los Angeles and found out about his firing from the television news.
"All the agents felt like the director should at least be called” beforehand to be informed of his firing, added Shacon.
But White House deputy press spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated May 10 that Comey's firing was justified.
"The rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director," she said.