President Trump on Thursday called fired FBI Director James Comey a “showboat” and “grandstander” who Trump intended to fire regardless of any recommendation from the Justice Department.
Trump, speaking to NBC News, gave his first in-depth remarks since the stunning ousting of Comey on Tuesday evening.
“Look he’s a showboat, he’s a grandstander,” Trump said. “The FBI has been in turmoil. 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.”
Trump said he had planned to fire Comey for some time, but “there’s no good time to do it by the way.”
Comey was terminated after Trump received a written recommendation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Comey’s direct superior. That memo cited Comey’s mishandling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s secret email server as the primary cause for a loss of confidence. But Trump said Thursday that Rosenstein’s document wasn’t what weighted the scale against Comey.
“I was going to fire regardless of recommendation,” Trump said.
Trump again repeated his assertion, contained in the letter firing Comey, that the former FBI head had told Trump on three separate occasions that he was not personally under investigation regarding any possible collusion with Russian officials.
“And I’ve heard that from others,” Trump said.
He went on to detail the occasions when Comey told him he was in the clear.
“I had a dinner with him, he wanted to have dinner because he wanted to stay on,” Trump said. “…And I said, ‘I’ll consider we’ll see what happens’…And at that time he told me, ‘You’re not under investigation,’ which I knew anyway.”
Said Trump: “In one case I asked him…He said: ‘You are not under investigation.’”