President Trump met on Monday with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who both voiced their concerns about James B. Comey, leading Trump to fire the FBI director a day later, according to White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
The White House revealed the previously undisclosed Oval Office meeting during the daily news media briefing on Wednesday, amid a controversy over the reasoning behind Comey's firing.
“He did have a conversation with the attorney general and deputy attorney general on Monday, where they had come to him to express their concerns,” Sanders told reporters. “The president asked that they put their concerns and recommendations in writing, which is the letter that you all had received.”
By Tuesday afternoon, Trump had made a decision to fire Comey and released a letter from Sessions and Rosenstein. Rosenstein, who had only recently been confirmed as the deputy attorney general, issued a three-page letter condemning Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe during the 2016 election.
Asked why Trump had not fired Comey immediately after becoming president, Sanders said that he had been considering it since the election but had given Comey “a chance.”
“The president lost confidence in Comey from the day he was elected,” Sanders said. “I think most of America had decided on their own that director Comey was not the person who should be leading the FBI.”
As a candidate, Trump praised Comey's handling of the Clinton investigation, especially after Comey released a letter in late October indicating that the FBI was reopening the investigation into her emails, a decision that Democrats say helped tip the election in his favor.
But the White House dismissed Trump's comments as a candidate, suggesting that his thinking on Comey changed once he became president.
“He was a candidate for president not the president, those are two very different things,” Sanders said.