White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that President Donald Trump is "proud" of his decision to fire James Comey from his position as FBI director in May.
Huckabee Sanders was asked during a Tuesday press conference about dismissed White House chief strategist Steve Bannon's recent comment that Comey's firing was "the biggest mistake in modern political history." In response, Huckabee Sanders rejected Bannon’s characterization, and framed Trump’s decision as a necessary action for the good of the FBI.
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"The president is proud of the decision that he made. The president was 100 percent right in firing James Comey," Huckabee Sanders said. "He knew at the time that it could be bad for him politically, but he also knew and felt he had an obligation to do what was right, and do what was right for the American people, and certainly the men and women at the FBI."
The press secretary went on to cite a report that – during the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server and handling of classified material – Comey had drafted a letter exonerating Clinton before the investigation was complete.
"He politicized an investigation by signaling he would exonerate Hillary Clinton before he ever interviewed her or other key witnesses," Huckabee Sanders said.
She also described the memos Comey leaked — which ended up at the New York Times — as privileged government information. She questioned whether Comey leaked the memos properly, or even legally.
"I think there's no secret Comey, by his own self-admission, leaked privileged government information," Huckabee Sanders said. "Weeks before President Trump fired him, Comey testified that an FBI agent engaged in the same practice, they'd face serious repercussions."
"I think he set his own stage for himself on that front," she added. "His actions were improper and likely could have been illegal."
Trump himself tweeted that Comey's decision to draft the exoneration statement prematurely was proof of a "rigged system." Sanders concluded that this new information has only served to vindicate Trump’s actions.
"He's very happy with the decision he made and I think he’s been fully vindicated by a lot of those new things, and knowing that it was the right thing," she said.