Trump says he decided to fire Comey before getting input from the Justice Department
President Donald Trump
Updated: President Donald Trump said in an interview that he had decided earlier this week to fire FBI Director James Comey—before he received a memo outlining the case against Comey by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Trump told NBC News on Thursday that Comey is “a showboat, he’s a grandstander. The FBI has been in turmoil.”
The president also said he asked Comey three times whether he was under investigation—once during a dinner and twice during phone calls. Trump said Comey told him he was not under investigation.
This came after Rosenstein reportedly threatened to resign because his analysis was initially portrayed as motivating Trump to fire Comey, the Washington Post and ABC News reported. Both stories cited an anonymous source.
The stories, published before Trump’s interview, said Trump had already decided to fire Comey before he directed Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to explain the case against FBI director in writing.
In an interview broadcast earlier Thursday on Good Morning America, Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she was not aware of any threat by Rosenstein to resign.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from any investigations related to Trump’s presidential campaign, leaving to Rosenstein any decision on whether to appoint a special counsel in the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The New York Times has published an open letter calling on Rosenstein to make the appointment.
“In ordering you to write the memo,” the Times says, Trump “exploited the integrity you have earned over nearly three decades in public service, spending down your credibility as selfishly as he has spent other people’s money throughout his business career.”
Twenty state attorneys general are also calling for the appointment of a special counsel. Their letter is here (PDF).
Story updated at 12:40 to include information from Trump’s interview with NBC. Story updated at 3:20 p.m. to recast.