President Donald Trump disputed the White House’s initial account of the events leading up to FBI Director James Comey’s abrupt firing Tuesday, telling NBC’s Lester Holt he sought to get rid of Comey “regardless of recommendation” from the Justice Department.
“I was going to fire Comey, my decision,” Trump said in an interview airing Thursday evening. “I was going to fire Comey. There’s no good time to do it, by the way.” He described Comey as a “showboat” and “grandstander.”
BREAKING: I was going to fire Comey anyway, Pres. Trump tells @LesterHoltNBC in exclusive interview at White House https://t.co/MAmo1PE1RL
— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) May 11, 2017
When pressed about the administration’s previous narrative that Trump was operating under the recommendation of the Justice Department, Trump reiterated that the decision came from him.
“I was going to fire him regardless of recommendation,” he said. “He made a recommendation, but regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.”
Trump’s statements directly contradict the account provided by White House officials just hours before, in which they claimed Comey’s removal was the result of a recommendation from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
In a separate clip from the wide-ranging interview, Trump also revealed that he specifically asked Comey whether he was under federal investigation for possible ties to Russia. The admission will likely fuel concerns that Trump has interfered with the FBI’s ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, which could include contacts between Russia and Trump’s campaign.
“I said, if it’s possible, would you let me know, am I under investigation?” Trump told Holt. “He said: You are not under investigation.”
EXCLUSIVE: President Trump reveals he asked former FBI Director Comey whether he was under investigation https://t.co/cFhjcJqBxa pic.twitter.com/Peefmqxxb7
— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 11, 2017