(CNSNews.com) - In an interview Thursday with NBC News’ Lester Holt, President Donald Trump said he was going to fire FBI Director James Comey regardless of the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, because Comey was “a showboat” and “a grandstander.”
“What I did is I was going to fire Comey - my decision,” the president said. “l was going to fire Comey. There’s no good time to do it by the way.”
The president said that Rosenstein made the recommendation to fire the FBI director, but the president “was going to fire regardless of recommendation.”
"He's a showboat, he's grandstander, the FBI has been in turmoil," Trump said about Comey in the interview. "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."
The White House said Thursday that President Donald Trump was “strongly inclined” to remove FBI Director James Comey after watching the director’s testimony last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“The president over the last several months lost confidence in Director Comey. After watching Director Comey’s testimony last Wednesday, the president was strongly inclined to remove him,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said as she described to reporters the timeline of events leading up to the FBI director’s termination.
“On Monday, the president met with the attorney general and the deputy attorney general, and they discussed reasons for removing the director. The next day - Tuesday, May 9th - the deputy attorney general sent his written recommendation to the attorney general, and the attorney general sent his written recommendation to the president,” Sanders said.
Trump told Holt that Comey told the president during dinner that he wasn’t under investigation by the FBI - a dinner at the White House in which the FBI director expressed his desire to stay on as director of the bureau.
When asked whether Comey asked for the dinner, the president said, “That dinner was arranged. I think he asked for the dinner, and he wanted to stay on as the FBI head, and I said, I’ll, you know, consider - we’ll see what happens, but we had a very nice dinner, and at that time he told me, You are not under investigation, which I knew anyway,” the president said.
“First of all, when you’re under investigation, you’re giving all sorts of documents and everything. I knew I wasn’t under -- and I heard it was stated at the committee, at some committee level that I wasn’t,” Trump said.
“Then during the phone call he said it, and during another phone call he said it. So he said it once at dinner and then he said it twice during phone calls,” the president said.
“In one case I called him. In one case, he called me,” Trump explained.
“I actually asked him. I said, if it’s possible, would you let me know am I under investigation. He said, you are not under investigation,” the president said.
Despite Comey’s sworn testimony before Congress that there’s an ongoing investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, Trump said, “I know that I’m not under investigation - me, personally. I’m not talking about campaigns. I’m not talking about anything else. I’m not under investigation.”