President Trump informed Russian officials in an Oval Office meeting last month that he fired FBI Director James Comey, who he called “a real nut job,” The New York Times reports.
“I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Trump said during the March 10 meeting, according to notes taken by White House officials.
“I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off,” Trump continued, adding that, “I’m not under investigation.”
Trump had fired Comey the day before the meeting, which was held with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The White House initially claimed that Trump made the move on the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein had written a letter dinging Comey for his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
A U.S. official read notes taken of the conversation to The Times’ reporters. Another government official confirmed Trump’s general comments, according to the newspaper.
Trump’s comments provide further evidence that he fired Comey because of the investigation into possible ties between his campaign and the Russian government.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer did not dispute the contents of the notes from the Oval Office meeting.
“By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia,” Spicer told The Times.
“The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it. Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations.”
Trump’s comments about Comey are not the only controversial remarks he made during that meeting. He also discussed classified information about ISIS’s plans to use laptops to blow up airplanes. Some members of the intelligence community became alarmed by those remarks because they were concerned Trump may have revealed sources and methods of intelligence gathering.