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US Special Counsel Has Draft Letter From Trump on Comey Firing

FILE - Former FBI Director James Comey, left, and President Donald Trump.
FILE - Former FBI Director James Comey, left, and President Donald Trump.

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election, has obtained a letter that President Donald Trump drafted laying out a rationale for firing FBI Director James Comey, according to U.S. media reports.

The reports say the letter was drafted before the May 9 firing of Comey but was never sent to the FBI director.

Instead, a different letter, written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, which focused on Comey's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server, was ultimately sent to the FBI director as a basis for his firing.

The New York Times, which first reported the story, said White House counsel Donald McGahn II thought some of the contents of Trump's letter were problematic, according to interviews the paper did with a dozen administration officials and others briefed on the matter.

It reported that one of Trump's top political aides, Stephen Miller, drafted the letter at the urging of Trump during a weekend in May, when Trump and his team were at the president's private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

A Justice Department statement said the department had been fully cooperative with Mueller's investigation.

At the time Comey was fired, he was leading an investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election and possible Trump campaign collusion with Moscow aimed at helping Trump win. Comey's firing led to the appointment of Mueller as a special prosecutor to oversee the investigation.

The probe has consumed the early months of Trump's White House tenure, even as Trump has branded the investigation a "witch hunt" and an excuse by Democrats to explain his upset victory over Clinton, his Democratic challenger and a former U.S. secretary of state.