May 3, 2017: Comey testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Among other things, Comey will testify that his late actions in the Clinton email investigation made him feel "terrible," adding, "It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election."
May 6 and 7, 2017: Over the weekend, Trump reportedly complains to people about Comey's testimony: According to a team of Washington Post reporters, while Trump was at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf course, he complained that Comey's testimony was "strange" and that he was sanctimonious.
A team of New York Times reporters adds that Comey told aides there was "something wrong with" Comey. And Reuters's Steve Holland and Jeff Mason will write that per one official, Trump was upset that Comey wouldn't give him a heads up on what he would say.
May 8, 2017: Trump reportedly tells aides that he's ready to fire Comey — and invites Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein over for a meeting. Per the Post, in the morning, Trump tells Vice President Mike Pence, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, chief strategist Steve Bannon, White House counsel Don McGahn, and other aides "that he was ready to move on Comey." The New York Times reports reports that Pence, McGahn, and Jared Kushner were all on board with firing Comey.
The question of what, exactly, happened at the meeting between Trump, Sessions, and Rosenstein will likely be the source of much investigative interest. It is unclear what exactly Trump said, whether he told them his mind was already made up about firing Comey, and whether he said he wanted Comey gone because of the Russia investigation. (The last of these is particularly important because Sessions is supposed to be recused from overseeing that investigation.)
The outcome, however, is clear — over the next day or so, Rosenstein writes a memo criticizing Comey's leadership of the FBI, primarily over his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation (essentially saying he was too tough on her and usurped Justice Department authorities).
In the evening, Trump sends these tweets complaining about the Russia investigation:
May 9, 2017: Trump fires Comey. In the late afternoon, the White House announces that Trump has fired the FBI director. By way of explanation, they release Rosenstein's memocriticizing Comey's conduct in the email case, paired with a brief statement from Sessions expressing agreement and recommending Comey's firing.
Trump's own statement says he has accepted Sessions and Rosenstein's recommendation and that Comey is "hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately." He also claims that Comey told him three times that he wasn't under investigation (a statement we now know is accurate):
While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.
Altogether, the releases are designed to leave the impression that Trump is firing Comey because of these recommendations from top Justice Department officials, and not because he had previously made up his mind to do so, or because of the Russia case in any way. This story will quickly fall apart — first due to a flurry of leaks indicating otherwise, and second due to the president's own words.
May 10, 2017: Trump reportedly tells Russian officials that firing Comey takes "pressure" off him. In an Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Trump reportedly discusses Comey's firing.
According to a US document summarizing the meeting — an account of which was later leaked to the New York Times's Matt Apuzzo, Maggie Haberman, and Matthew Rosenberg — Trump said, "I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job." He added: "I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off."
The White House hasn't disputed this account, though some officials have claimed that Trump was making the comments as part of a negotiating ploy.
May 11, 2017: In an interview with NBC's Lester Holt, Trump openly says that the "made-up" Russia investigation was on his mind when he fired Comey. He also confirms that he was going to fire Comey regardless of what Rosenstein said.
He [Rosenstein] made a recommendation, he's highly respected, very good guy, very smart guy. The Democrats like him, the Republicans like him. He made a recommendation. But regardless of [the] recommendation, I was going to fire Comey. Knowing there was no good time to do it!
And in fact when I decided to just do it I said to myself, I said, "You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should've won."
And the reason they should've won it is, the Electoral College is almost impossible for a Republican to win, it's very hard, because you start off at such a disadvantage. So everybody was thinking they should have won the election. This was an excuse for having lost an election.
That same day, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post stories will question Trump's claim that Comey told him he wasn't under investigation. (Comey, however, will later confirm this claim is true.)
And the New York Times's Michael Schmidt reports Comey's account of Trump asking him for "loyalty" at their dinner in January.
May 12, 2017: Trump hints that he might have taped his conversations with Comey.
Since then, the president has refused to confirm or deny whether he tapes his conversations in the White House. (When Comey is asked about this possibility during his testimony, he will say, "Lordy, I hope there are tapes.")
May 16, 2017: The Times reports that Comey wrote a memo saying Trump asked him to let the investigation into Flynn go. The story, from Michael Schmidt, is treated as a major bombshell and appears to be what prompted Rosenstein to appoint a special prosecutor.
May 17, 2017: Rod Rosenstein names former FBI Director Robert Mueller special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation. In a statement, Rosenstein says he has "determined" that "based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command."
"Special Counsel Mueller will have all appropriate resources to conduct a thorough and complete investigation, and I am confident that he will follow the facts, apply the law and reach a just result," Rosenstein continues.