WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Thursday he would have fired FBI Director James Comey even without the recommendation from his top political appointees at the Justice Department, contradicting earlier White House accounts.
He insisted anew that Comey had told him directly three separate times that he personally was not under investigation.
“I was going to fire Comey,” Trump said in an interview with NBC. The White House and Vice President Mike Pence have said the president acted on the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
“Regardless of recommendation I was going to fire Comey,” Trump said.
Trump’s comments came amid increased criticism of the White House’s evolving explanation of the firing.
In public testimony Thursday, the acting FBI director, Andrew McCabe, contradicted White House statements about why Comey was dismissed, particularly the assertion that Comey had lost the confidence of the rank and file of the FBI.
“That is not accurate,” McCabe said in response to a senator’s question. “I can tell you also that Director Comey enjoyed broad support within the FBI and still does to this day.”
In the NBC interview, Trump repeated his assertion that Comey three times assured him he was not under investigation.
“He said it once at dinner, and then he said it twice during phone calls,” Trump said.