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

White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Wednesday that former FBI Director James Comey committed "atrocities" while he led the bureau, which she said spurred President Donald Trump's to fire him.

Sanders said although Trump expressed support for Comey's decisions relating to the Hillary Clinton email investigation while he was a candidate, the letter he received on 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" convinced Trump that Comey needed to be fired.

"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 specifically discuss Comey, however, telling reporters that "the topic came up" during a meeting of DOJ officials at the White House. At that point, Sanders said, Sessions and Rosenstein asked to meet with Trump to discuss the issue further.

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Reaction to Trump's firing of James Comey
But does anyone seriously believe @realDonaldTrump fired the top person investigating his ties to Russia because he was unfair to Hillary?
Trump firing Comey shows how frightened the Admin is over Russia investigation
Gov. John Kasich statement on James Comey https://t.co/Wrwj6sGqnz
Removal of Director Comey only confirms need for select cmte to investigate #Russia's interference in 2016 election https://t.co/LfKlwSw6iQ
EVERYONE who cares about independence & rule of law in America should be "troubled by the timing and reasoning" of… https://t.co/NZY4qh3uiz
This is Nixonian. Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein must immediately appoint a special prosecutor to continue the Trump/Russia investigation.
Firing of Comey tainted by extraordinary conflict of interest. Independent prosecutor must be appointed to restore… https://t.co/lXBIJtTf18
First Pres Trump fired Sally Yates, then Preet Bharara. Now #Comey. Doesn't seem like an accident. We must have a special prosecutor.
If we don't get a special prosecutor, every American will rightfully suspect that the decision to fire #Comey was part of a cover-up.
We are in a full-fledged constitutional crisis.
Comey's fired, which means Trump must be one of the few people in DC that the FBI doesn't have something on.
My statement on James Comey https://t.co/NWBR8FGTCf
Elijah Cummings is calling for "immediate emergency hearings". https://t.co/iMsNmdPmHi
LEAHY: "This is nothing less than Nixonian." https://t.co/n4R4fWSgib
Sen. John McCain on Comey firing: "I regret that that took place. The president does have that authority, so I resp… https://t.co/pSEu3XXsj5
Statement on FBI Director Comey ➡ https://t.co/vB822Nw5OR
This should not be sugar coated. Firing Comey is up there in terms of the scariest things Trump has done.
I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination.
My staff and I are reviewing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia. The second paragraph of… https://t.co/qcm1PiFkNG
Ds were against Comey before they were for him.
U.S. Senator Susan Collins’ Statement on Director Comey #mepolitics https://t.co/LHCcbPJMsb https://t.co/xNUeGvENlv
Firing Comey has the foul stench of an attempt to stop an ongoing investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.
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Trump asked Rosenstein to write a memo outlining his concerns about the FBI director, Sanders said. But the New York Times' Michael Schmidt wrote on Tuesday that Trump had been contemplating firing Comey for some time, and that Sessions had been trying to find an excuse "since at least last week" to let him go. Sanders said Trump had been contemplating dismissing Comey since the day he was elected.

In his letter to Trump, dated May 9, Rosenstein said he "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."

"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 be revisiting 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 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 non-public 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?"

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SEE ALSO: Comey reportedly asked the Justice Department for more resources for the Trump-Russia probe days before he was fired

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