President Donald Trump said recently ousted FBI Director James Comey told him on three occasions that he was not under federal investigation.
In an interview with NBC News’s Lester Holt airing Thursday, Trump said one of the three conversations with Comey took place at a White House dinner.
“Did you ask, ‘Am I under investigation?'” Holt asked Trump.
“I actually asked him, yes,” Trump said. “I said, ‘If it’s possible, will you let me know, am I under investigation?’ He said, ‘You are not under investigation.'”
The other two times were over the phone, he said, adding that he initiated one call and Comey the other.
Trump’s story aligns with a claim he made in a letter sent to Comey on Tuesday announcing the director’s dismissal.
“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occassions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau,” Trump wrote in the letter.
But during testimony Comey gave before the House Intelligence Committee in March, he confirmed the FBI was investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.
“You were the centrepiece of the Trump campaign, so was he being truthful when he says you aren’t under investigation?” Holt asked Trump.
“I know that I’m not under investigation,” Trump said. “Me personally. I’m not talking about campaigns, I’m not talking about anything else. I’m not under investigation.”
The White House has denied Comey’s firing is related to the ongoing FBI investigation, maintaining that Comey lost Trump’s trust after his handling of an FBI probe into Hillary Clinton’s email use last year. However, critics are pointing to reports that before his firing, Comey asked the Justice Department for more resources for the Russia investigation as an indication that Trump is trying to impede the FBI’s progress.
White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders flatly denied those claims at a briefing on Thursday, and added that the conversations between Comey and Trump did not present a conflict of interest.
During the interview with Holt, Trump also insisted that firing Comey was entirely his decision — despite the White House previously claiming he was following the recommendations of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
More from Mark Abadi:
- Trump describes the 3 times he says James Comey told him he wasn’t under investigation
- Here’s the farewell letter James Comey just sent his former FBI colleagues
- CNN: The FBI’s Russia investigation is ‘accelerating,’ and it cost Comey his job
- Everyone’s comparing Trump to Richard Nixon and the ‘Saturday Night Massacre’ — here’s what happened then
- ‘This is Nixonian’: Democratic lawmakers are comparing the FBI director’s firing to the ‘Saturday Night Massacre’
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