The White House said Tuesday that the Justice Department should examine the possibility of prosecuting former FBI Director James Comey, who President Trump abruptly fired last May.
“That’s not the President’s role. That’s the job of the Department of Justice, and something they should certainly look at,” Sanders said Monday at the daily briefing when asked if Trump would encourage such a prosecution. “But I think if there’s ever a moment where we feel someone has broken the law, particularly if they’re the head of the FBI, I think that’s something that certainly should be looked at.”
A representative for the Department of Justice did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Sanders’ remarks come one day after she suggested the possibility of Comey lying during his sworn testimony before Congress about his time working for Trump. If those allegations are true, he would be susceptible to charges of perjury, there’s no evidence to substantiate Sanders’ claims.
President Trump announced he was firing Comey on May 9, citing recommendations from the two top ranking officials in the Justice Department, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein, that Comey should be ousted because of the way he handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server during the 2016 election.
The rationale was puzzling, however, since Trump had praised Comey’s decision to re-open the probe in 2016. Trump conceded later that week in May that he had fired Comey over concerns about the investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russia, which Comey was overseeing. “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,” he told NBC’s Lester Holt May 11.
Trump’s decision to oust Comey was condemned on both sides of the aisle, and even by members of his own staff. Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist who has since left the White House, said it was possibly the biggest mistake “in modern political history” in an interview on 60 Minutes.
But Sanders said Tuesday that Trump still stands by his decision.
“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,” Sanders said Tuesday, adding that Trump has “vindicated” by Comey’s own acknowledgements that he had leaked details of the memos he kept of his conversations with Trump.