White House counselor Kellyanne Conway defended President Donald Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey on May 9, one day after Comey testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee about his investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign team and Russia (video below).
CNN host Anderson Cooper asked Conway why Trump's termination letter to Comey recalled how Comey handled an investigation of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton:
Most of this letter focuses on Hillary Clinton's emails. This is stuff that, as a candidate, Donald Trump praised James Comey for. Donald Trump talked about this on the campaign [trail] all the time. All of a sudden, the White House is concerned about James Comey’s handling of Hillary Clinton’s emails?... Why now are you concerned about the Hillary Clinton email investigation, when as a candidate, Donald Trump was praising it from the campaign trail?
Conway insisted that Cooper was not being fair to Trump: "I think you're looking at the wrong set of facts here. In other words, you’re going back to the campaign. This man is the president of the United States, he acted decisively today. He took the recommendation of his deputy attorney general who oversees the FBI director -- "
"That makes no sense," Cooper interjected. "He said one thing, and now he's concerned as president?"
"It does make sense," Conway responded. "Because he has lost confidence in the FBI director and, he took the recommendation of Rob Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general to whom the FBI director reports to."
Later in the interview, Cooper mentioned that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer "has said this raises real concerns. He is saying that essentially this is a cover-up, today."
"Well, he's wrong, it's not a cover-up," Conway stated.
While Conway tried to put the responsibility for Comey's firing on Rosenstein, Trump attacked Schumer on Twitter: "Cryin' Chuck Schumer stated recently, 'I do not have confidence in him (James Comey) any longer.' Then acts so indignant. #draintheswamp."
Trump did not mention Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman, who released a statement saying how he was "troubled" by the firing of Comey:
I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination. I have found Director Comey to be a public servant of the highest order, and his dismissal further confuses an already difficult investigation by the Committee. In my interactions with the Director and with the Bureau under his leadership, he and the FBI have always been straightforward with our Committee.
Director Comey has been more forthcoming with information than any FBI Director I can recall in my tenure on the congressional intelligence committees. His dismissal, I believe, is a loss for the Bureau and the nation.