President Donald Trump's newly appointed attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said Trump fired FBI director James Comey because Comey wouldn't say publicly that Trump was not a target in the Russia investigation.
When Comey was fired in May 2017, Trump said it was because of the way Comey handled the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails.
Soon after Comey's dismissal, Trump said in an interview with NBC News' Lester Holt that he had the Russia probe in mind when he fired the FBI director.
And during a closed-door Oval Office meeting with Russian diplomats days later, Trump called Comey a "nut job" and said firing Comey — who was in charge of the Russia investigation at the time — took "great pressure" off of him.
Rudy Giuliani, the newest addition to President Donald Trump's legal team, said on Wednesday night that Trump fired FBI Director James Comey last May because Comey "would not, among other things, say that he wasn't a target in the [Russia] investigation."
Comey was overseeing the Russia investigation, which was launched to uncover the facts of Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election. US intelligence agencies in early 2017 found that the Kremlin had executed comprehensive influence campaigns largely rooted on social media, and designed to tilt the election in Trump's favor.
US investigators under Comey's supervision — and later under the special counsel Robert Mueller — have also been working to determine whether the Trump campaign cooperated with Russia in its interference efforts.
Giuliani's admission on Wednesday night is significant because Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation was cited as the official reason for his firing. Trump would later say in an interview on NBC News that he had the Russia investigation in mind when he made his decision.
And during a closed-door Oval Office meeting with Russian diplomats days later, Trump called Comey a "nut job," and said the FBI director's firing had taken "great pressure" off of him.
Additionally, Giuliani's assertion that Trump simply wanted Comey to publicly say he wasn't a target in the Russia probe adds new weight to Trump's dismissal letter to the FBI director. In it, Trump announced what he apparently wanted Comey himself to say: "While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau."