Narrative Busted: ABC’s Karl Admits Comey Wasn’t Fired for Russia Investigation

During President Trump’s interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt, which aired on Thursday, the President admitted that one of the things that went through his head when deciding to fire FBI Director James was the Russia investigation. Many on the left took that to mean Comey was fired because of the investigation itself. “That admission shattered the early White House spin that the President's decision had nothing to do with the Russian investigation,” announced Clinton lackey George Stephanopoulos during ABC’s This Week on Sunday, but that assertion was soon shot down by White House Correspondent Jon Karl.

In his full statement, Trump said:

Regardless of recommendation, I was going fire Comey. Knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact, 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. It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.’

But to Stephanopoulos, it meant “It also brought back three words from the days of Watergate: ‘Obstruction of justice.’” “To be fair, the President in that same interview, said he wanted the investigation to absolutely be done properly. But his actions have raised questions about those words,” he chided.

Later on in the program when Stephanopoulos ceased his pontificating and allowed the panel to speak, ABC News reporter Jon Karl spoke up and contradicted the narrative. “On what he said in the interview about Russia. I don't think that President Trump was saying ‘I fired him because of the Russia investigation,’” he told Stephanopoulos.

“I think what he was really saying is: that on the idea that there would be massive blowback cause he was firing the guy in terms of the investigation, he was not worried about the blowback because he thinks the Russian investigation is nothing,” Karl added.

Stephanopoulos had almost nothing to say to that, only noting that Trump thought the investigation would “just come to nothing.” He then moved the conversation along by calling on Martha Raddatz for her opinion.

During the same segment, ABC Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas cited anonymous sources within the FBI who were throwing heavy accusations at the President. “What I think I'm hearing from people inside the bureau more than anything is that they were stunned that the White House has been talking about the need to shut this investigation down so openly,” Thomas claimed.

The narrative that Trump fired Comey because the FBI was hot on his trail has been pushed by the Big Three Networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) since Wednesday. And on the night the news of the firing first broken, the primetime cable shows compared Trump to Nixon 107 times. This shows a clear effort by the media to play up the firing to something larger than it may be. 

Transcript below:

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ABC
This Week
May 14, 2017
9:02:32 AM Eastern

DONALD TRUMP: Regardless of recommendation, I was going fire Comey. Knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact, 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. It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.”

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: That admission shattered the early White House spin that the President's decision had nothing to do with the Russian investigation. That he was acting solely on the Deputy Attorney General's recommendation that Comey had to be fired for how he handled the Hillary Clinton investigation. It also brought back three words from the days of Watergate: “Obstruction of justice.” To be fair, the President in that same interview, said he wanted the investigation to absolutely be done properly. But his actions have raised questions about those words.

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9:07:48 AM Eastern

PIERRE THOMAS:  Look, the people that are close to Comey do not believe that he would ever tell the President he was not the subject of an investigation. That he's too careful. He knows these investigations have twists and turns. And you never know what will happen until they’re over. They also think he would not pledge loyalty. He would tell the President, “look, I'll be honest with you.” Never a situation where he would pledge loyally. What I think I'm hearing from people inside the bureau more than anything is that they were stunned that the White House has been talking about the need to shut this investigation down so openly. They're also stunned at the notion of how Comey was treated. They think he was treated shabbily. And that's the word I'm hearing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: This is the kind of thing you would expect to see on tape from a White House years after the fact. But the President's doing this all very transparently. Saying “Listen, I was thinking about Russia.”

JON KARL: In real time.

THOMAS: Right. And the person who is in the most interesting position is the Deputy Attorney General, Rosenstein. I'm told he made a very principled argument in terms of when he was asked by the President. The impetus came from President Trump to fire Comey. But when he was asked, his legitimate argument was Comey is too much of maverick. That he’s too much of a person that likes the spot light. And he was taken aback by Comey's quote, in this person's words, “performance last week,” when he talked about how difficult the decision was in regards to the Clinton investigation. And that Comey was way too aggressive in making the case publicly about it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And the president's word, “a showboat.”

KARL: And by the way very quickly, George, on what he said in the interview about Russia. I don't think that President Trump was saying ‘I fired him because of the Russia investigation.’ I think what he was really saying is: that on the idea that there would be massive blowback cause he was firing the guy in terms of the investigation, he was not worried about the blowback because he thinks the Russian investigation is nothing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That it will just come to nothing. 

Nicholas Fondacaro
Nicholas Fondacaro
Nicholas C. Fondacaro