Speed Reads

Trump fires James Comey

When President Trump decided to fire James Comey, he didn't share his plan with his vice president or press secretary

Neither Vice President Mike Pence nor White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer were accurately informed in advance about President Trump's plan to fire FBI Director James Comey, weekend reports from The Washington Post and The New York Times reveal.

Pence was apparently tasked with sharing the official White House account of Comey's ouster, a story Trump himself would thouroughly undercut:

[Pence on Wednesday] went to Capitol Hill and in a brief scrum with reporters described the decision-making process that led to Comey’s dismissal as one that originated at the Justice Department and moved up to the chain of command to the president for action. This wasn’t a statement made in passing. Four different times he pointed to the Justice Department as the catalyst and cited Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein’s memo critiquing Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state as being critically influential. Everyone now knows there was much more to the sequence of events ... [The Washington Post]

"Pence has prided himself on being a truth-teller," the Post story notes, a difficult reputation to maintain when the president publicly repudiates his remarks.

Spicer's situation was different. Citing "a half-dozen West Wing officials," the Times reports he was deliberately kept in the dark in advance of the firing because the president did not trust the discretion of the White House communications staff:

[Trump] has been especially critical of Mr. Spicer, they said, openly musing about replacing him and telling people in his circle that he kept his own press secretary out of the loop in dismissing Mr. Comey until the last possible moment because he feared that the communications staff would leak the news. [The New York Times]

As the Post comments, this week demonstrates that "Trump established a White House with few clear lines of authority, competing power centers and, as it turned out, fighting factions" plagued by poor communications. Read more of that analysis here.