President Trump cleared his schedule Thursday morning. According to NBC News, he is holed up in a White House dining room with lawyers and advisers, monitoring the congressional testimony of former FBI director James B. Comey.
Concerned staff was bracing for Trump to tweet responses in real time. As of 11 a.m., he had not tweeted.
The daily media briefing later in the day will be off-camera and will not feature White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will speak with reporters instead.
Early in the afternoon, Trump will address a Faith and Freedom Coalition conference.
The president's strategy is clear: On Comey Day, he is his own spokesman.
Trump and his surrogates often appear out of sync, notably when describing publicly the events leading up to Comey's firing by Trump. Spicer and Sanders told reporters that the president acted on the recommendation of his deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein. Trump then said in an interview with NBC that he had decided to dismiss Comey regardless of what Rosenstein advised.
There should be no such contradictions Thursday, however, with Trump in command of his own messaging. “Ultimately, the best messenger is the president himself,” Spicer said last week. “He's always proven that.”