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President Trump: James Comey Was a ‘Showboat’ and ‘Grandstander’

Lester Holt and Donald Trump.Lester Holt and Donald Trump.
Lester Holt and Donald Trump.Taylor Hill/FilmMagic & Mark Wilson —Getty Images

President Donald Trump had planned on firing former FBI Director James Comey with or without a recommendation from top Justice Department officials, he said in an interview with NBC News Thursday.

Calling Comey a “showboat” and a “grandstander,” the president made clear that firing the former FBI director was his decision — despite statements from White House officials that called Trump’s move a result of recommendations from the Justice Department.

“I was going to fire Comey. My decision,” Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt. “I was going to fire regardless of recommendation.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein produced a memo for Trump earlier this week criticizing Comey for the way he handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State. The White House initially used the memo as the rationale for Comey’s dismissal.

Democrats and some Republicans have questioned the White House’s motive and timing for the move since Comey was also investigating whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russian officials to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

In his interview with NBC, Trump also described the three instances in which he had asked Comey if he was under investigation by the federal agency. Trump had thanked Comey in his letter dismissing him from his position for telling him he was not under investigation.

“I actually asked him, I said, ‘If it’s possible, will you let me know if I’m under investigation?'” Trump said. “He said, ‘You are not under investigation.'”