THE MORNING PLUM:
For all the talk about the unusual nature of President Trump’s decision to fire James Comey, it actually fits comfortably into a well-established pattern that has defined this presidency from its very first day. Trump makes an emotional, impulsive assertion or decision — and then his underlings are forced into a wild scramble to produce a rationale or justification for it.
In this pattern, the decision or assertion often originated in the same place — deep in the recesses of Trump’s entangled megalomania and sneaking dread of the illegitimacy of his presidency. And the Comey firing, it turns out, may not be an exception to this.
This conclusion is bolstered by some great new reporting this morning on the Trumpian thought processes (if you can call them that) leading to the firing of the FBI director. The reporting reduces the White House’s original spin on the firing — that Trump decided to fire Comey after Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy, Rod J. Rosenstein, presented a case rooted in his handling of Hillary Clinton’s emails — to a pile of smoking rubble.
The New York Times relays this striking account of what really happened:
In private, aides said, Mr. Trump has been nursing a collection of festering grievances, including Mr. Comey’s handling of the Russia investigation, his seeming lack of interest in pursuing anti-Trump leaks and the perceived disloyalty over the wiretapping claim.
Mr. Comey’s fate was sealed by his latest testimony about the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s efforts to sway the 2016 election and the Clinton email inquiry. Mr. Trump burned as he watched, convinced that Mr. Comey was grandstanding. He was particularly irked when Mr. Comey said he was “mildly nauseous” to think that his handling of the email case had influenced the election, which Mr. Trump took to demean his own role in history.
The Post’s account offers similar details. It notes that Trump had grown “increasingly agitated” by Comey’s public comments about the Russia probe and “was infuriated by what he viewed as the director’s lack of action in recent weeks on leaks from within the federal government.” Trump decided to fire Comey by last weekend. Then this happened:
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.
* HERE COMES TRUMP’S ‘VOTER FRAUD’ INVESTIGATION: ABC News scoops that Trump is set to sign an executive order establishing a commission to investigate nonexistent voter fraud:
The commission, which will include Republicans and Democrats, will be tasked with studying “vulnerabilities” in U.S. voting systems and potential effects on “improper voting, fraudulent voter registrations and fraudulent voting,” according to one official with knowledge of the announcement … The commission’s review … will not just address Trump’s allegations about the 2016 election but also “systemic issues that have been raised over many years in terms of the integrity of the elections,” one official said.
The commission will look at voter suppression, to placate Democrats, and there is also the possibility of a look at other systemic problems. But the emphasis on voter fraud is terrible — it will likely lay the groundwork for more voter suppression efforts.