Exciting new fact fades away: In the days before he got fired, did James B. Comey request a funding increase for the FBI's Russia probe?
Did he seek "a hefty increase in resources for the Russia investigation," as Dan Balz excitingly said?
As of Thursday morning, this was the most exciting new "fact" anywhere in the land. In the hard-copy Washington Post, a banner headline across page one bruited this fact to the world.
The banner front-page headline said this: "Comey sought more resources for Russia probe." According to the exciting report, Comey had sought the additional resources in a meeting with Rod Rosenstein.
The New York Times also built its featured front-page report around this exciting new fact. The hard-copy headlines looked like this:
F.B.I. FIRING ROILS CAPITAL AS TRUMP CALLS OUT CRITICSIn his final days, Comey had sought additional funding for the Russia probe!
In Last Days as Chief, Comey Sought Aid in Russia Inquiry
On Wednesday night, pundits had shouted this thrilling new fact all across cable, saying it explained Comey's sudden firing. On Thursday morning, Joe Scarborough even staged a classic Morning Joe rant. Click here, move ahead to 1:30.
Did Comey ask Rod Rosenstein for a funding increase? Yesterday afternoon, at a Senate hearing, Susan Collins posed that question to Andrew McCabe, Comey's former deputy and the current FBI acting director. We thought you might be interested in seeing what McCabe said:
COLLINS: Press reports yesterday indicated that Director Comey requested additional resources from the Justice Department for the bureau's ongoing investigation into Russian active measures. Are you aware of that request? Can you confirm that that request was in fact made?Did Comey make some sort of funding request when he met with Rosenstein? McCabe said he wasn't aware of any such request. He said that isn't the way a funding request would work.
MCCABE: I cannot confirm that request was made. As you know ma'am, when we need resources, we make those requests here. So I, I don't— I'm not aware of that request, and it's not consistent with my understanding of how we request additional resources.
That said, we don't typically request resources for an individual case. And as I mentioned, I strongly believe that the Russian investigation is adequately resourced.
Did Comey make a request? Does that explain why he got fired?
We can't answer that question. And thanks to Donald J. Trump's crazy interview with Lester Holt, we no longer need that exciting claim to explain why Comey got fired.
The claim was thrilling for a day. Then the pundit corps moved on. No one will examine this matter further. This is the way our press corps works in days of excitement and scandal.
Did Comey really make some sort of request? At the Post and the Times, sourcing for the exciting claim was extremely thin. In these days of excitement and scandal, that's pretty much all it takes.