President Trump contradicts White House on reason for Comey firing

Washington, D.C. (WPRI) — In an exclusive interview with NBC News, President Donald Trump said he planned on firing former FBI Director James Comey all along — even before top Justice Department officials recommended it.

Thursday night, President Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt he planned to fire Comey before his Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, recommended it.

“He made a recommendation but regardless of recommendation I was going to fire Comey,” Trump said. “There’s no good time to do it, by the way.”

These statements contradict what White House officials have been saying since Comey was ousted Tuesday evening.

In an interview the day after Comey was fired, Vice President Michael Pence said, “The President took strong and decisive leadership here to put the safety and security of the American people first by accepting the recommendation of the deputy attorney general to remove Director Comey as the head of the FBI.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders attributed the disconnect in the week’s explanations to the fact that she had not directly asked President Trump when he’d made the decision to fire Comey until shortly before Thursday’s press briefing.

In the interview Thursday night, President Trump went on to explain Comey had told him on three separate occasions he is not under investigation by the FBI. He said one of those discussions happened during a private dinner in January and the other two discussions were over the phone.

“I know that I’m not under investigation, me personally,” Trump said. “I’m not talking about campaigns, I’m not talking about anything else, I’m not under investigation.”

The President went on to call Comey a “showboat” and a “grandstander”.

A law enforcement official told CBS News, during that private dinner in January, President Trump repeatedly demanded Comey pledge his loyalty. Comey declined, instead promising only to be honest with President Trump.