The White House issued a timeline on Wednesday night of the events leading up to the termination of FBI Director James Comey Tuesday, ostensibly seeking to clear the air about President Donald Trump's motivations.
But in the process, it might have only fed suspicions that Trump fired Comey to destroy an FBI investigation into his much-rumored ties to Russian intelligence operatives, who are accused of leaking damaging information during the 2016 presidential campaign.
"The president over the last several months lost confidence in Director Comey," the timeline began — itself a contradiction with the official rationale that DOJ officials independently concluded Comey needed to go.
Then it continues, "After watching Director Comey's testimony last Wednesday, the president was strongly inclined to remove him."
In addition to the Clinton emails, Comey discussed the ongoing investigation into Trump's alleged ties with Russia during that very congressional hearing, emphasizing the threat to future elections posed by Russian intelligence.
As pointed out by the Hill's Niall Stanage, the timeline also contradicts the official account that DOJ officials independently urged Trump to fire Comey.
Multiple reports, including in Politico and the New York Times, have emphasized Trump's displeasure at Comey's inability, or refusal, to quickly resolve the investigation into the president's rumored ties to Russia.
The Times emphasized Comey's testimony was the breaking point at which Trump's "festering grievances" — including how Comey handled the Russia investigation and his refusal to support Trump's baseless claim that Barack Obama had his wires tapped — turned into action.
"The hostility toward the FBI director in the West Wing in recent weeks was palpable, aides said, with advisers describing an almost ritualistic need to criticize the Russia investigation to assuage an anxious and angry president," the paper reported.