President Trump, call your deputy attorney general's office. In one week, the White House has twice changed its story about why and on who's recommendation Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.
Contradicting his staff during an NBC interview last Tuesday, Trump said he fired Comey regardless of a memo drafted by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. But suddenly the president now agrees with his staff, insisting that he axed Comey at Rosenstein's recommendation.
"Director Comey was very unpopular with most people," Trump said Thursday, regurgitating an old line before adding a new one. "I also got a very, very strong recommendation from the Deputy Attorney General."
And therein lies the problem. Did Trump rely on the Rosenstein memo, or did he go it alone?
If all of this sounds confusing, that's because it is, and frankly it's Trump's fault. The credibility of his attorney general and the rest of his administration is on the line. Either he based his actions on the memo, or he used the memo to reinforce his decision. Trump has to pick one. He can't continue to play it both ways.
Two developments add to the confusion. First, Rosenstein never expressly recommended that Trump fire Comey. And second, according to Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Rosenstein admitted during a classified briefing that he wrote the memo only after discovering that Trump planned to give Comey the boot.
This doesn't amount to a scandal just yet. More than likely Trump's not making the distinction and just being flippant with his language. Most people wouldn't. Then again most people aren't leading the free world.
After four months, it's time for Trump to recognize that his words are tantamount to actions. So long as he sits in the Oval Office, his soundbites have the power to send stocks crashing, the press scrambling and even troops marching. Being glib might go a long way in the business world, but it doesn't fly in the White House.
None of this is meant to disparage the president or his voters. The electorate knew full-well they were sending a brash businessman to D.C. They wanted action, not perfect and logical elocution. Still, each time Trump shoots from the hip, he manages to shoot himself in the foot and hobble his own agenda. It does him no favors.
Speculation will continue to get worse until Trump can get his story straight.
Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.