Kudos to the Washington Post, which of course has been down these twisty little paths before:
Every time FBI Director James B. Comey appeared in public, an ever-watchful President Trump grew increasingly agitated that the topic was the one that he was most desperate to avoid: Russia.
Trump had long questioned Comey’s loyalty and judgment, and was infuriated by what he viewed as the director’s lack of action in recent weeks on leaks from within the federal government. By last weekend, he had made up his mind: Comey had to go.
At his golf course in Bedminster, N.J., Trump groused over Comey’s latest congressional testimony, which he thought was “strange,” and grew impatient with what he viewed as his sanctimony, according to White House officials. Comey, Trump figured, was using the Russia probe to become a martyr.
Back at work Monday morning in Washington, Trump told Vice President Pence and several senior aides — Reince Priebus, Stephen K. Bannon and Donald McGahn, among others — that he was ready to move on Comey. First, though, he wanted to talk with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, his trusted confidant, and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, to whom Comey reported directly. Trump summoned the two of them to the White House for a meeting, according to a person close to the White House.
The president already had decided to fire Comey, according to this person. But in the meeting, several White House officials said Trump gave Sessions and Rosenstein a directive: to explain in writing the case against Comey.
The pair quickly fulfilled the boss’s orders, and the next day Trump fired Comey — a breathtaking move that thrust a White House already accustomed to chaos into a new level of tumult, one that has legal as well as political consequences…
The known actions that led to Comey’s dismissal raise as many questions as answers. Why was Sessions involved in discussions about the fate of the man leading the FBI’s Russia investigation, after having recused himself from the probe because he had falsely denied under oath his own past communications with the Russian ambassador?
Why had Trump discussed the Russia probe with the FBI director three times, as he claimed in his letter dismissing Comey, which could have been a violation of Justice Department policies that ongoing investigations generally are not to be discussed with White House officials?
And how much was the timing of Trump’s decision shaped by events spiraling out of his control — such as Monday’s testimony about Russian interference by former acting attorney general Sally Yates, or the fact that Comey last week requested more resources from the Justice Department to expand the FBI’s Russia probe?…
Dating to the campaign, several men personally close to Trump deeply distrusted Comey and helped feed the candidate-turned-president’s suspicions of the FBI director, who declined to recommend charges against Clinton for what they all agreed was a criminal offense, according to several people familiar with the dynamic.
The men influencing Trump include Roger J. Stone, a self-proclaimed dirty trickster and longtime Trump confidant who himself has been linked to the FBI’s Russia investigation; former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a Comey critic who has been known to kibbitz about the ousted FBI director with like-minded law enforcement figures; and Keith Schiller, a former New York police officer who functioned as Trump’s chief bodyguard and works in the West Wing as director of Oval Office operations…
Well worth clicking over to read the whole thing; there’s video, graphics, surprise twists, ham-handed henchmen, and a capper with Sean Spicer trying to hide in the bushes.
Spicer on phone to WaPo: 😡
"I was not IN the bushes!
I was AMONG the bushes!"
Social media manager: 😎 pic.twitter.com/o8TJUsEPRy
— Prof Dynarski (@dynarski) May 11, 2017