Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday “nobody was in the dark” about President Donald Trump’s decision-making process and motivations behind ousting FBI Director James Comey, despite a series of conflicting statements from administration officials this week.
“Our story is consistent,” Sanders said at the daily briefing, responding to questions from reporters about shifts in the statements coming out of the White House since Trump fired Comey on Tuesday.
Trump told NBC News’ Lester Holt on Thursday that he had independently decided to fire Comey and would have done so regardless of what Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, said in a memo sent to him on Tuesday.
The three-page memo outlined why the FBI needed new leadership. That same day, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement that Trump terminated Comey “based on the clear recommendations” of Sessions and Rosenstein. On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence repeated that line several times.
Sanders, however, said the White House’s story didn’t change. She had told reporters on Wednesday that Trump had been considering firing Comey since his election in November, and she said Thursday there was never an attempt to pin the decision on Rosenstein.
“If we want to talk about contradicting statements and people that were maybe in the dark, how about the Democrats?” Sanders said, saying they had been critical of Comey but still blasted Trump for firing him. She read old statements from Democratic leaders as she addressed the press from the White House lectern, filling in for Spicer in her third on-camera briefing.
“The president is the only person that can fire the director of the FBI. He serves at the pleasure of the president. The president made the decision. It was the right decision. The people that are in the dark today are the Democrats,” Sanders said.