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Fmr AG Gonzales: ‘Serious Questions’ About the Timing of Comey Firing

On Wednesday’s broadcast of CNN’s “New Day,” former Attorney General under President George W. Bush Alberto Gonzales stated of FBI Director James Comey’s firing, “Obviously, there are serious questions about the timing and I think the White House owes the American public an explanation of really, why now.” And said the language in President Trump’s letter to Comey is “very, very strange, and again, raising even more questions about the motivation — about what happened here.”

Gonzales said, “I was surprised. Obviously, there are serious questions about the timing and I think the White House owes the American public an explanation of really, why now. And, quite frankly, if this firing was intended to intimidate or — and interfere in any way with the ongoing Russian investigation, I think that is terribly wrong. And there needs to be a full accounting and a full explanation of the reasons why. I know Rod Rosenstein, he was one of my US attorneys. I have a great deal of faith in him. I have no issues with him coming out and speaking to the press and providing a full explanation of the reasoning. But again, the timing is so strange. The other thing — I have heard other guests on your show talking about the way in which this was carried out, with Jim Comey out on the West Coast, very unprofessional, and I think that was very very unfortunate, the way that the White House handled this.”

Gonzales also commented on Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ involvement in Comey’s ouster in light of Sessions recusing himself from the Russia investigation by stating, “Well, of course, the fact that Jeff Sessions recuses himself from a particular investigation doesn’t mean that he removes himself from complete oversight of the rest of the department. And so, his involvement — I’d be very curious to know in fact, how much was he involved in this discussion and this decision. Typically, what would happen here is the attorney general would check with ethics individuals within the Department of Justice, and get guidance as to whether or not it would be appropriate to weigh in on a particular matter after a recusal has occurred. That may have happened here. That may not have happened here.”

He added, “We’re going to find out what happened with respect to Russia. It’s going to either be through the FBI. It’s either going to be through the Congress, and/or it’s going to be through the media. This has elevated the stakes here. And so, if the purpose of this firing was to stop an investigation, I think it’s going to have just the opposite effect.”

Gonzales also commented on the statement in Trump’s letter to Comey that “I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation,” Gonzales stated that the FBI Director having those kinds of conversations with the president “would be inappropriate.” He further said, “I found the inclusion of that language very, very strange, and again, raising even more questions about the motivation — about what happened here. There are still a lot of unanswered questions. It could be the White House was simply incompetent in the way this was rolled out. So, again, we need to find out what happened here. What was the real motivation? Because obviously, the timing has really raised some serious questions about what is really going on here.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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