White House: Trump ‘Had Been Considering Letting Comey Go Since Day He Was Elected’

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The shockwaves continue in Washington as the Trump administration is defending the president’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey.

The backlash has been much stronger than the White House anticipated.

On the heels of his firing, Comey has been invited to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee next week.

White House: FBI Director James Comey Fired

Comey has not responded to the request to testify. If it happens, it will take place behind closed doors.

Demonstrators protested outside the White House following Comey’s firing. President Donald Trump said Wednesday he fired Comey because “he was not doing a good job.”

The White House says Comey’s firing is in response to how he handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Now, they also say it has been a long time coming.

“He had lost confidence in Director Comey, and frankly, he had been considering letting Director Comey go since the day he was elected,” said Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.

Some Democrats say the president had ulterior motives for firing Comey.

“He was likely fired because he was getting closer to the truth about the connection between the Trump campaign and Russia,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

Philadelphia Congressmen React To Firing Of FBI Director James Comey: ‘Absolutely Stunning’

CBS News correspondent Liz Palmer caught up with Russian President Vladimir Putin before a hockey game in Sochi, Russia, and asked how the firing would impact U.S.-Russia relations.

“There will be no affect,” Putin said. “President Trump is acting in accordance with his competence and the importance with his law and Constitution.”

Trump took to Twitter as the fallout from Comey’s firing reverberated through Capitol Hill.

“Dems have been complaining for months & months about Dir. Comey. Now that he has been fired they PRETEND to be aggrieved. Phony hypocrites!” Trump tweeted.

Sources tell CBS News Comey had approached Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last week to ask for more resources, energy and attention for the Russia investigation. It’s a claim the Justice Department denies.

Democrats now say the FBI investigation needs to be placed in the hands of a special prosecutor.

Meanwhile, in a previously scheduled meeting, Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the White House Wednesday.

The 25-minute sit-down marked the president’s highest level in-person contact with Russia since taking office.

Syria and U.S.-Russia relations were at the top of the agenda.

“I thought it was very, very good,” Trump said of the meeting. “What we want to do is we want to see the killing, the horrible killing in Syria stop as soon as possible and everybody is working toward that end.”

Trump made the comments while meeting with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Trump is set to meet with Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in July.

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