He said it on TV. That's what Stephen Colbert reminded us last night in his first taped broadcast since we learned President Trump is under investigation for obstruction of justice. As Special Counsel Robert Mueller's inquiry heats up and Republicans ramp up their efforts to undermine the special counsel's credibility, the accusations will fly and the leaks will flow and at some point it will feel like a maelstrom of information. But the simple fact remains that President Trump said, in a nationally televised interview with Lester Holt, that he fired then-FBI Director James Comey at least in part because of the FBI's Russia investigation.
"When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story," Trump said then, in a clip Colbert pulled last night.
"Then I said to myself," Colbert said, channeling Trump, "make sure you don't say that on TV."
In that same interview, Trump also said he was going to fire Comey regardless of what Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein recommended-despite the fact that when the defenestration was announced, Trump's official rationale leaned heavily on their recommendation letters. Like with the Travel Ban, which administration lawyers took great pains to try to prove to a court was not a Travel Ban only for the president to repeatedly call it a Travel Ban, President Trump came out himself to torpedo his case here. For some reason, the president is most truthful when the truth has the capacity to hurt him legally.
Of course, Trump's bottomless appetite for self-sabotage doesn't stop others from trying to defend him. Newt Gingrich has led the charge on trying to undermine Mueller, just as Republicans tried to kneecap James Comey's credibility. Colbert touched on the allegation that members of Mueller's legal "dream team" have donated to Democrats-which is accurate, though Gingrich was less concerned that Ken Starr, the Bill Clinton special prosecutor, had donated extensively to Republicans.
Seth Meyers concerned himself with another dimension of that hypocrisy: the Republican flip-flop on what it means for a White House occupant or aspirant to be under investigation:
Meanwhile, Meyers wisely reminded us, they're still trying to ram through that healthcare bill.
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