deputy white house press secretary
Trump’s Obama obsession
The president finds his predecessor to be a convenient foil as he wades through persistent controversy.

“My concern about Trump isn’t his day-to-day nonsense, it’s the notion that he could be governed by conspiracy theories and paranoia in a time of actual crisis,” said Bill Burton, former deputy White House press secretary for Obama. “All the rest of this is just the mutterings of a man deeply in over his head.”

FBI's acting director disputes White House claim that the FBI 'lost confidence' in Comey

(Andrew McCabe, the acting FBI director.REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan)
The acting director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday and disputed a White House claim that President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey at least partly because the FBI’s employees “had lost confidence in their director.”

“In your opinion, is it accurate that the rank and file no longer supported Director Comey?” Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich asked McCabe.

“No, sir, that is not accurate,” McCabe replied.

White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Wednesday that the White House had “heard from countless members of the FBI” who said they had lost confidence in Comey.

“In fact, the president will be meeting with acting Director McCabe later today to discuss that very thing — the morale at the FBI — as well as make an offer to go directly to the FBI if he feels that that’s necessary and appropriate,” Sanders said.

McCabe categorically rejected that assessment on Thursday.

“Working with Director Comey was the honor of my life,” he said. “I can confidently tell you that the vast majority of FBI employees enjoyed a deep and positive connection to Director Comey.”

He added that he had “the highest respect” for Comey.

McCabe also called the FBI probe into Russian interference in the US election “highly significant,” contradicting the White House’s assertion that it was a low priority for the bureau.

The Senate hearing featured testimony from six witnesses, including Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers. They were asked to provide a “comprehensive overview of the current and projected national security threats to the United States and our national interests.”

The hearing came amid drama over Trump’s firing of Comey, however, which made McCabe the FBI’s acting director — and the Senate’s star witness.

(Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general.AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Sens. Richard Burr, the committee chairman, and Mark Warner, the ranking member, unexpectedly stepped out of the hearing about two hours after it began to meet with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and US attorney Dana Boente in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, CNN reported.

Rosenstein reportedly threatened to resign on Wednesday because he was angry the White House had used him as a fall guy to justify Comey’s dismissal. The White House had said Rosenstein recommended Comey be fired, but reports indicate Trump had already decided to let Comey go when he met with Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday.

In his opening statement, Warner sought assurance from McCabe that he would inform the committee if the White House tried to “squash” the bureau’s Russia probe “or impede it in any way.” He also condemned Trump’s “shocking” decision to fire Comey, the timing of which he called “especially troubling.”

“He was leading an active counterintelligence investigation into any links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government or its representatives, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts to interfere in our election,” Warner said. “For many people, including myself, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the president’s decision to remove Director Comey was related to this investigation. And that is unacceptable.”

In a letter on Tuesday telling Comey he was fired, Trump wrote, “I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation.”

(Donald Trump and James Comey.Getty Images)

Burr asked McCabe whether he had heard Comey tell Trump he “was not the subject of an investigation.” McCabe said he “can’t comment on any conversations the director may have had with the president.”

Warner then asked McCabe whether he would, in light of Comey’s dismissal, “commit to informing this committee of any effort by the White House to interfere” in the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s election meddling and whether the Trump campaign was involved.

“I absolutely do,” McCabe replied.

“There has been no effort to impede our investigation today,” McCabe said in response to a question from Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. He said “you cannot stop the men and women of the FBI” from doing their jobs.

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden said that while he disagreed with some of Comey’s decisions, “the timing of this firing is wrong to anyone with a semblance of ethics. Director Comey should be here this morning testifying to the American people about where the investigation stands.”

“Would it have been wrong for the director to inform [Trump] he was not under investigation?” Wyden asked McCabe.

“I will not comment on whether or not the director and the president had that kind of conversation,” McCabe said. He added, however, that he would refrain from providing Trump updates about the bureau’s Russia investigation.

Wyden then asked Pompeo whether he was aware of the concerns about former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s conversations with Russia’s ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. Pompeo said he had “no firsthand information” about the warning that former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates gave to the White House in January about Flynn’s susceptibility to Russian blackmail.

Alluding to Trump’s letter to Comey, Heinrich asked McCabe whether it was his experience that people who hadn’t done anything wrong needed “assurance that they’re not under investigation?”

“No, sir,” McCabe said.

Heinrich then asked whether anyone at the White House had asked McCabe about the Russia investigation. McCabe said no one had.

McCabe added that he believed “we have the adequate resources” needed to complete the Russia investigation.

“The investigation will move forward,” McCabe said. “The FBI will continue to pursue this investigation vigorously and completely.”

When asked whether the FBI’s morale had been affected by the 2016 election, McCabe said it “has always been good, but there were folks in our agency who were frustrated with the outcome of the Hillary Clinton case.”

Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris asked McCabe whether he supported the idea of appointing a special prosecutor in the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia. McCabe said that was “a question for the Department of Justice.”

“It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment,” he said.

NOW WATCH: Yale history professor: Here’s why it’s useful to compare Trump’s actions to Hitler’s

More From Business Insider
White House: Removing Comey will help bring Russia investigation to end
The White House said Thursday that removing FBI Director James Comey from his post may hasten the agency's investigation into Russian meddling.
By Kevin Liptak, CNN White House Producer

Sarah Huckabee Sanders admits Trump committed Obstruction of Justice by firing Comey

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.”, Sarah Huckabee Sanders -  White House Deputy Press Secretary

Trivia: Sarah Huckabee Sanders is Mike Huckabee ‘s daughter #Nepotism


Donald Trump Fires First Female White House Usher Angella Reid

The White House has fired Chief Usher Angella Reid, the first woman and second African-American to hold the position, the media reported.

When the White House residence staff arrived at work on Friday morning, they were told that Reid, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2011, was no longer employed, The Washington Post quoted an official with knowledge of the dismissal as saying.

A White House official confirmed Reid’s dismissal but declined to provide any specifics for the reasons behind her departure.

Angella ReidI think it’s best if the White House explains.

During Friday’s daily briefing with reporters, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the principal deputy White House press secretary, said that the deputy usher will serve as the acting usher.

“She is no longer employed here at the White House,” Sanders said when asked about Reid’s departure.

“We left on very good terms and wish her the very best and certainly hope for great things for her in the future. However, it’s not uncommon you might have a transition of staff when a new administration comes in. It’s nothing more than that.”

Reid who had previously worked for the Ritz-Carlton hotel, replaced the first African American chief usher, Admiral Stephen W Rochon, when he left to take a job at the Department of Homeland Security, reports The Washington Post.

The job is one that typically involves a long tenure. There have been just nine since the beginning of the 20th century.

The chief usher oversees all activities in the White House residence and works as general manager of the building, handling everything from the large staff of butlers, maids, chefs, florists and electricians to fiscal, administrative and personal duties.

It also works closely with the first family, including providing guidance on the furnishings, art and decor.
BREAKING: How Trump’s anger and impatience prompted him to fire the FBI director

The stated rationale for Comey’s firing delivered Wednesday by principal deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was that he had committed “atrocities” in overseeing the FBI’s probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state, hurting morale in the bureau and compromising public trust…

But the private accounts of more than 30 officials at the White House, the Justice Department, the FBI and on Capitol Hill, as well as Trump confidants and other senior Republicans, paint a conflicting narrative centered on the president’s brewing personal animus toward Comey. Many of those interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to candidly discuss internal deliberations.

Trump was angry that Comey would not support his baseless claim that President Barack Obama had his campaign offices wiretapped. Trump was frustrated when Comey revealed in Senate testimony the breadth of the counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s effort to sway the 2016 U.S. presidential election. And he fumed that Comey was giving too much attention to the Russia probe and not enough to investigating leaks to journalists…

Within the Justice Department and the FBI, the firing of Comey has left raw anger, and some fear, according to multiple officials. Thomas O’Connor, the president of the FBI Agents Association, called Comey’s firing “a gut punch. We didn’t see it coming, and we don’t think Director Comey did anything that would lead to this.’’

Many employees said they were furious about the firing, saying the circumstances of his dismissal did more damage to the FBI’s independence than anything Comey did in his three-plus years in the job.

One intelligence official who works on Russian espionage matters said they were more determined than ever to pursue such cases. Another said Comey’s firing and the subsequent comments from the White House are attacks that won’t soon be forgotten. Trump had “essentially declared war on a lot of people at the FBI,” one official said. “I think there will be a concerted effort to respond over time in kind.”

White House: Comey committed 'atrocities' during his time as FBI director

(Sarah Huckabee Sanders.Screenshot/MSNBC)
White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Wednesday that former FBI Director James Comey committed “atrocities” while he led the bureau that she said spurred President Donald Trump to fire him on Tuesday.

Sanders said that although Trump as a candidate had expressed support for Comey’s decisions about the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, the letter he received Tuesday from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions outlining “the basic atrocities” Comey committed “in circumventing the chain of command of the Department of Justice” persuaded him to fire Comey.

“Any person of legal mind and authority knows what a big deal that is,” Sanders said. “Particularly for someone like the deputy attorney general, who has been part of the Justice Department for 30 years — when he saw that, he had to take action, and that was the final catalyst” for Comey’s dismissal.

McClatchy reported Wednesday that Trump met with Sessions and Rosenstein on Monday to discuss firing Comey, who days earlier had asked the Justice Department for more resources to expand the probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and whether any Trump campaign associates were involved.

Sanders denied that the Monday meeting was arranged to discuss Comey, however, telling reporters that “the topic came up” during a meeting of department officials at the White House. At that point, Sanders said, Sessions and Rosenstein asked to meet with Trump to further discuss the issue.

Trump asked Rosenstein to write a memo outlining his concerns about the FBI director, Sanders said. But The New York Times’ Michael Schmidt reported on Tuesday that Sessions had been trying “since at least last week” to find an excuse to let Comey go. Sanders said Trump had been contemplating dismissing Comey since the day he was elected.

In his letter to Trump, dated Tuesday, Rosenstein said, “I cannot defend the director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken.

(Rod Rosenstein.AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

"The director was wrong to usurp the attorney general’s authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution,” he continued. “It is not the function of the director to make such an announcement. At most, the director should have said the FBI had completed its investigation and presented its findings to federal prosecutors.”

Rosenstein also criticized Comey’s decision to tell Congress 11 days before the election that the FBI would revisit the Clinton email probe — a move that Trump and Sessions applauded at the time.

“Concerning his letter to the Congress on October 28, 2016, the director cast his decision as a choice between whether he would ‘speak’ about the FBI’s decision to investigate the newly discovered email messages or 'conceal’ it,” Rosenstein wrote.

“'Conceal’ is a loaded term that misstates the issue. When federal agents and prosecutors quietly open a criminal investigation, we are not concealing anything; we are simply following the longstanding policy that we refrain from publicizing nonpublic information. In that context, silence is not concealment.”

Trump fired Comey one day after Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general, testified before Congress that she had warned the White House about former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russia’s ambassador during the transition.

Days earlier, Comey reiterated during an open Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that the FBI was still “conducting an investigation to understand whether there was any coordination between the Russian efforts and anybody associated with the Trump campaign.”

“The Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax,” Trump tweeted on Monday night. “When will this taxpayer funded charade end?”

NOW WATCH: Watch a Trump surrogate get shut down after calling Trump the 'Martin Luther King of healthcare’

More From Business Insider

okay so anyway today i went to a talk with the white house principal deputy press secretary (like if cj had a sam, basically) because he went to my school and obviously a lot of questions were really insightful and the answers were so so interesting (it was so cool!!!!!!!!!!! i was so excited the whole time) but then there were the kind of silly ones and like. listen. of course people asked about the west wing and so:

  • the west wing is still really accurate in terms of the pace of white house life
  • it really captures the sense of camaraderie among the people who work with the president
  • literally everyone asks this question
  • everyone in politics is always surprised by its staying power?? they’re excited abt it tho
  • house of cards is fake tho
  • also veep is kind of Tru sometimes