Sen. Angus King says he has mounting concerns about President Trump’s changing explanations for why he fired James Comey as director of the FBI.

“The president’s shifting accounts for firing the director are not only bizarre and puzzling, but very deeply troubling,” King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, said via email. “I continue to have mounting concerns and a growing number of questions about a White House and a president that appear not to be shooting straight with the American people.”

When the White House announced Tuesday that it had fired Comey – who was overseeing an FBI probe of contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia – it cited a Department of Justice memo criticizing his handling of the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails in the summer of 2016 as the reason.

But in an interview with NBC Thursday, Trump said he had planned to fire Comey all along, regardless of what the Justice Department said, and volunteered that he had asked Comey several times if he was under investigation. Trump also said the Russia probe – “a made-up story,” in his words – was on his mind when he made the decision to fire the man leading it.

Trump also said of Comey: “He’s a showboat, he’s a grandstander, the FBI has been in turmoil.”

King was troubled by those remarks.

“I think the president’s comments about Director Comey were inappropriate and inconsistent with the director’s character and reputation,” King said.

Trump added to the tumult with a tweet Friday morning that appeared to warn Comey that their conversations could have been taped.

“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” the president wrote.

King and Maine’s senior senator, Republican Susan Collins, both sit on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is engaged in its own investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, including ties and contacts with the Trump campaign.

Collins’ office was asked Thursday afternoon and Friday morning for her reaction to the president’s changing explanations for Comey’s firing but declined to comment.

In an interview Wednesday with the Press Herald, Collins had tougher words for the president then she had previously.

“If President Trump thought that firing Director Comey was going to in any way stop the FBI’s investigation into Russian activities related to last fall’s election, including whether there was collusion between the Russians and his campaign, he is very much mistaken,” Collins said.

This represented a significant shift from Collins’ initial statement Tuesday evening, in which she described Comey’s firing as “the inevitable conclusion” of actions the director had taken in July over the Clinton email probe.

“Any suggestion that today’s announcement is somehow an effort to stop the FBI’s investigation of Russia’s attempt to influence the election last fall is misplaced,” Collins said at the time. “The president did not fire the entire FBI; he fired the director. I have every confidence that the FBI will continue to pursue its investigation.”

Colin Woodard can be contacted at:

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