FILE - In this July 20, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence greet military personnel during their visit to the Pentagon. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
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When President Donald Trump fired James Comey in May, he said he was acting on the recommendation of Justice Department leaders who had faulted the FBI director for publicly releasing "derogatory information" about Hillary Clinton at the conclusion of the email server investigation one year earlier. Yet with each tweet about the Clinton probe, Trump seems to be further undermining his administration's stated rationale for a termination now central to special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.The disconnect between Trump's attacks on Comey's handling of the email investigation and the criticism of Comey by his own Justice Department could muddy the narrative about exactly why Comey was fired. This may complicate efforts by the president's legal team to present a coherent narrative as Mueller and his prosecutors examine whether the dismissal could support obstruction of justice allegations.The final memo that the White House released on May 9, signed by Rosenstein, castigated Comey for announcing that criminal charges were not warranted against Clinton even though such determinations are generally left to Justice Department prosecutors. He also faulted Comey for comments made during that news conference, which he said broke with Justice Department protocol by issuing "derogatory information" about someone who was not charged.
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