President Donald Trump today said he was going to fire FBI director James Comey regardless of the Justice Department’s recommendations, contradicting the White House’s earlier account that he acted on the recommendation of top justice officials. “I was going to fire him regardless of recommendations. Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey,” Trump told NBC News in an interview, the first after he abruptly fired Comey early this week.
The White House previously said Trump only decided to oust Comey after meeting Monday with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who discussed reasons for removing the director. Trump also said he had personally asked Comey whether he was under FBI investigation.
“I actually asked him, yes. I said, ‘If it’s possible would you let me know am I under investigation?'” Trump said, noting that he spoke with Comey once over dinner and twice by phone. “He said, ‘you are not under investigation.'” Trump claimed, asserting that he never tried to pressurise or influence Comey.
Trump also attacked the former FBI chief, calling him a “showboat” and a “grandstander” who had jeopardised the integrity of the top law enforcement agency. “He’s a showboat, he’s grandstander, the FBI has been in turmoil,” he said. “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,” he said.
Trump’s comments came after acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe directly contradicted the White House’s claims that the “rank and file” agents had lost faith in Comey. “Director Comey enjoyed broad support within the FBI and still does to this day,” McCabe said on Thursday during testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Trump strongly refuted the allegations that there was any collusion between him or his campaign with the Russians. There was no “collusion between me and my campaign and the Russians. Also, the Russians did not affect the vote,” he said.