President Donald Trump said Thursday that he was planning on firing James Comey regardless of recommendations from the top ranking officials in the Justice Department, further contradicting initial reports from the White House about the FBI Director’s ouster.
Trump told NBC News’ Lester Holt that he had plans to fire Comey before meeting with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Monday, even though he cited recommendations from Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions in his letter to Comey rationalizing his ouster.
“Regardless of recommendation I was going to fire Comey,” he said. “He’s a showboat, he’s a grandstander, the FBI has been in turmoil.”
Trump’s account differs from what his surrogates initially said on Tuesday, that he was simply accepting recommendations from the Department of Justice.
“The Director of the FBI reports to the Deputy Attorney General … he made a determination that the FBI Director had lost his confidence, made a recommendation to the Attorney General, the Attorney General concurred with that and forwarded that recommendation today on to the President, who agreed with the Attorneys General, and terminated the FBI director’s position at the FBI,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday.
But on Wednesday, the White House altered the narrative to align more with Trump’s latest rationale, with Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claiming Trump has been thinking about firing Comey since he was elected.
Trump also thanked Comey in his letter firing him for telling he wasn’t under investigation, an exchange he said happened three times. Trump recounted those three instances instances to Holt, telling him one of those conversations happened at a dinner shortly after he was elected, and the other two happened during telephone calls.
“I actually asked him,” Trump said. “I said ‘if its possible will you let me know if I’m under investigation?’ He said, ‘you are not under investigation’”