Trump's attorney general is still peddling nonsense about why James Comey was fired. Pressed during a congressional hearing, he went silent.

Donald Trump has been remarkably candid about why he fired FBI Director James Comey back in May. Trump took the extraordinary step because he didn’t like how the FBI was handling the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Trump considers the widespread, multi-pronged investigation, which stretches from Congress to the FBI and the special counsel, to be a massive “hoax.” Angered that Comey wouldn’t halt the inquiry, Trump fired him.

And Trump said so on national television. So why is there this continued charade put on by administration officials, such as Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who claim that Trump made the stunning FBI move because he was so upset that Comey had treated Hillary Clinton unfairly during the campaign?

During Comey’s infamous and baffling misstep last summer, he exonerated Clinton from any wrongdoing with regard to the use of her private email as secretary of state, yet still issued a long condemnation of her actions. (As a policy, the FBI does not publicly denounce people found to have committed no crimes, let alone people who aren’t indicted of any crimes.)

Yet there was Sessions on Wednesday, appearing before an often contentious Senate Judiciary Committee, being pressed about Comey’s firing and still clinging to the fantasy version of events where Trump just couldn’t sleep at night knowing Comey may have hindered Clinton’s campaign. Therefore he had to find a new FBI director. This, despite Trump tweeting only hours before Sessions testified that Comey “totally protected Hillary Clinton. He was the best thing that ever happened to her!”

The problem is that timeline doesn’t add up. Comey messed up badly in July 2016. Trump was inaugurated in January 2017. But Comey wasn’t fired until May 2018. So why the delay?

When pressed by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Wednesday, Sessions appeared to be stumped into silence, which lasted nearly 10 awkward seconds, as he tried to formulate a response:

GRAHAM: Secretary [sic] Comey gave three reasons, at various times, about why he jumped into this case in July. First, if that’s the main reason the president wanted to fire him, his jumping into email investigation and taking it over in unprecedented way, which I agree with you, why did he take so long?

SESSIONS: The investigation?

GRAHAM: No, to fire him.

[long silence]

SESSIONS: You mean, why did the president —

GRAHAM: The president knew when he was inaugurated that Comey jumped into the middle of Clinton email investigation, took the job as attorney general over, that’s the main reason he was fired. Why did he wait so long to fire Comey?

SESSIONS: Well, I’m not sure he ever grasped the full import of that.

Sessions could probably give quicker, more coherent responses if he stuck to the truth.