President Donald Trump seemed to muddle some of the competing explanations for firing FBI Director James Comey last week. During a press conference in the East Room Thursday afternoon, he explained:
“Director Comey was very unpopular with most people. I actually thought when I made that decision — and I also got a very, very strong recommendation as you know from the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein.
But when I made that decision, I actually thought that it would be a bipartisan decision, because you look at all of the people on the Democratic side, not only the Republican side, that were saying such terrible things about Director Comey.
Then he had the very poor performance on Wednesday. That was a poor, poor performance. So poor in fact that I believe, and you’d have to ask him, because I don’t like to speak for other people, but I believe that’s why the deputy attorney general went out and wrote his very, very strong letter.
And then on top of that, after the Wednesday performance by Director Comey, you had a person come, and after, readjust the record, which many people have never seen before, because there were misstatements made. And I thought that was something that was terrible.”
During an interview with NBC News last week, Trump said, “Oh, I was going to fire regardless of recommendation.”
Around the same time that Trump was preparing for his press conference, Rosenstein reportedly told the full Senate that Trump had already decided to fire Comey before Trump asked him to submit a memo that would amount to reasoning.
It's still unclear exactly when the president made the decision to fire Comey. His staff has said he'd been mulling it for a long time.