Breakfast Briefing, 5.10.2017: White House scrambles to contain Comey story

The Trump administration planned for an orderly announcement of the FBI director's termination. Things didn't go as planned.

There’s one story dominating the news cycle on Wednesday morning. Here’s a look at the media relations story behind the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

How Comey found out
In Los Angeles addressing the bureau’s staff late Tuesday afternoon, Comey reportedly found out he’d been fired when he saw the story breaking on cable news. The FBI director initially thought it was an elaborate rouse put on by the office’s staff, according to The New York Times. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who earlier in the day said he hadn't talked to President Donald Trump about Comey’s standing, wanted to roll out the announcement in an email statement, but ran out of time, according to The Washington Post. CNN’s Dana Bash reported several White House staffers didn’t think the firing would be that big of a deal considering Democrats’ past criticisms of Comey.

What happened next
Democrats and some Republicans immediately called for an independent investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Despite saying the White House would have no additional comment on Comey, the administration rushed several staffers on TV, according to CNN. Kellyanne Conway reappeared to push back against allegations of a coverup with Anderson Cooper, who wasn’t having it. Spicer defended Trump’s decision. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Fox News that it’s time for Democrats to move on from the Russia probe. The president took to Twitter once Tuesday night and several times Wednesday morning to claim Democrats, specifically "Cryin’ Chuck Schumer," are being hypocritical about the firing.

What would’ve been Wednesday’s three biggest stories had Comey not been fired:
Russia, Russia, and Russia. Throwing worries about bad optics to the wind, Trump is set to meet with Russia’s foreign minister at the White House today. Federal prosecutors have begun issuing subpoenas for the business records of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s associates, according to CBS News and CNN.

Props to this social media team
Kudos to the staff of the Richard Nixon Library for a quick fact check on Twitter in response to ubiquitous claims Comey’s firing is "Nixonian." President Richard Nixon never fired his FBI director, but accepted the resignations of his attorney general and deputy attorney general in what’s known as the "Saturday Night Massacre."

There’s other news happening today, too
Snapchat is set to disclose its first-quarter earnings on Wednesday, the first time it will issue an earnings report as a public company. Expectations are muted, according to the Financial Times.

New from PRWeek this morning
WE is rolling out The Plus Network, an alliance with organizations such as YouGov, Salt Branding, and Interel to better compete against agency networks and holding companies. California’s Department of Public Health has put a $38 million integrated marketing contract up for bid. The account will focus on its statewide healthy living program. 

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