Donald Trump said the firing of FBI Director James Comey was “set up a while ago,” directly contradicting the White House’s claim that he acted off the recommendation of his attorney general.
In an interview with Lester Holt on NBC News Thursday night, the president said: “It was set up a while ago, and frankly, I could have waited, but what difference does it make?”
“Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it.”
His comment undercuts the White House explanation that he fired Comey after he received two letters of recommendation from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein this week.
Trump — who said he was a “showboat” and “grandstander” — also denied that Comey’s firing had anything to do with the the fact that the FBI is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, including if there were any ties between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.
“I just want somebody that’s competent,” Trump said. “I am a big fan of the FBI, I love the FBI. I want to find out if there was a problem in the election having to do with Russia.” (RELATED: Comey Confirms FBI Is Investigating Links Between Trump Campaign And Russia)
“As far as I’m concerned, I want that thing to be absolutely done properly,” he added. “Maybe I’ll expand that, you know, lengthen the time because it should be over with, in my opinion, should have been over with a long time ago. ‘Cause all it is is an excuse, but I said to myself, I might even lengthen out the investigation, but I have to do the right thing for the American people.”
Trump said there was “no collusion between me and my campaign and the Russians.”
“Also, the Russians did not affect the vote.”