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Politics

Donald Trump Delivers First Commencement Speech as President Amid Comey Firing Scandal

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Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

President Donald Trump delivered his first commencement address as president at Liberty University in Virginia on Saturday.

“But you aren’t going to let other people tell you what you believe, especially when you know that you’re right,” Trump said to the crowd in his speech, which clocked in around nine minutes.

Trump also told the graduates of the Christian university to “embrace the label” of being an outsider, adding not to “swim downstream so easily with the current.”

His speech came after a series of tweets Friday morning that appeared to threaten former FBI Director James Comey, who he fired on Tuesday amid ongoing investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia.

“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” the president tweeted, appearing to reference a New York Times report in which two anonymous sources described a January dinner between Trump and Comey, during which, the sources said, Trump asked for Comey’s loyalty. Comey declined, the sources told the Times, and said that he could only offer Trump his “honesty.”

On Tuesday, the White House announced Comey was fired as Trump’s decision came at the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who laid out the case for axing Comey in a memo that detailed his mishandling of the investigation into Clinton’s private email server.

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But in a new interview just two days after Comey’s bombshell dismissal, Trump now said that he was planning to fire Comey even before he received the recommendations from his top Justice Department officials, a seeming contradiction to information released by his own administration.

“He’s a showboat, he’s grandstander, the FBI has been in turmoil,” Trump told NBC News’ Lester Holt in an interview that aired Thursday. “You know that, I know that. Everybody knows that. You take a look at the FBI a year ago, it was in virtual turmoil, less than a year ago. It hasn’t recovered from that.”

In October, Comey had shocked Washington when he announced that the FBI had reopened its investigation of Clinton’s private email server. Then, two days before Election Day in November, the FBI declared it ultimately found no new evidence against Clinton.