For two days, the president's spokespeople - including Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Sean Spicer, and even Vice President Mike Pence - have told the media that Donald Trump fired James Comey after reading the letter penned by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who had only been in office for two weeks.
"All I want is for Comey to be honest - and I hope he will be". "There's nothing further to add on that", he said. "That's not a threat". "The tweet speaks for itself". When Trump then pressed for "honest loyalty", Comey told the president, "You will have that", said the associates, who told the newspaper they agreed to keep the story confidential while Comey was Federal Bureau of Investigation director. "When James Clapper himself, and virtually everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt, says there is no collusion, when does it end?" "He's simply stating a fact", Spicer said tersely.
The ousted director himself is said to be confident that his own version of events will come out, possibly in an appearance before Congress, according to an associate who has been in touch with him since his firing Tuesday.
Comey has not confirmed Trump's account of discussions that included the FBI's probe of Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election and allegations of Trump campaign collaboration with the Russians. "As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with flawless accuracy!" he tweeted.
The White House Correspondents Association released a statement following the President's tweet that opposed the canceling of future briefings.
Not 48 hours later, Trump told Holt: "What I did is, I was going to fire Comey".
On MSNBC's "Morning Joe", Durbin suggested that the president's move to fire Comey amid its Trump-Russia investigation was "dangerous because he may be obstructing justice".
Capping a week in which Trump faced a slew of criticism for firing the man investigating his campaign's possible ties to Russia, Trump told James Comey there could be retribution if he tells the press about their private conversations. "It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should've won". And Mr Trump, in an NBC interview on Thursday, described a far different dinner conversation in which Mr Comey requested the meeting and the topic of loyalty never came up.
Spicer called the coverage of changing stories behind Comey's dismissal miss the point. "It just matters that the president is brushing up against these lines", said Stephen Vladeck, a University of Texas at Austin national security law professor.
It must be more than hard to work in the Trump White House. Shutting down news briefings, the association said in a statement, "would reduce accountability, transparency, and the opportunity for Americans to see that, in the US system, no political figure is above being questioned".