Trump contradicts his own White House on reasons for Comey firing

"And I said, 'You know, consider, we'll see what happens.' But we had a very nice dinner, and at that time, he told me, 'You are not under investigation, ' which I knew anyway".

Comey reportedly said he could offer only "honesty" and that he was not "reliable" in the conventional political sense, angering Trump, whose campaign has been under investigation over its ties to Russian Federation during the Presidential elections.

Trump also said Comey told him three times - twice over the phone and once at their dinner meeting - that he was not the subject of any FBI investigations.

The president showed no concern that the inquiry could be viewed as interference into an ongoing Federal Bureau of Investigation probe - or that his conduct could be seen as a warning to Comey's eventual successor to steer clear of questions about the campaign's possible ties to Russia's election meddling.

"He said, 'You are not under investigation, '" Trump recounted, repeating an assertion made when the White House announced Comey's firing Tuesday.

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores denied that Comey had asked Rosenstein for more resources for the Russian Federation investigation.

The White House also changed its narrative about whether the president had chose to fire Comey based on the recommendations by Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

"For many people, including myself, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the president's decision to remove Director Comey was related to this investigation".

He also said it was unusual for someone not involved in a crime to ask the question. In the NBC interview, Trump said he would have fired Comey regardless of what the Attorney General's office said.

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Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House deputy press secretary, said Trump did nothing wrong by asking about the investigation while Comey was asking to keep his job. "I don't think that, you know, the back-and-forth makes that much difference", she said.

More than that, he effusively praised Comey, telling his supporters that it "took a lot of guts" for him to do "the right thing". Not only did Trump have to contend with four investigations in the Congress, but now with a much wider investigation by the FBI, hundreds of additional agents digging into every contact Trump associates had with the Kremlin during the campaign. Some are also raising questions about the propriety of Trump pressing the police for information about himself.

"Knowing, there was no good time to do it", Trump told NBC News's Lester Holt.

But Rosenstein pushed to correct that narrative, resulting in a revised White House statement late Wednesday that made clear Trump already had been considering firing Comey.

The White House initially cited a Justice Department memo criticising Comey's handling of last year's investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails as the impetus for Trump's decision. The investigation has shadowed Trump from the outset of his presidency, though he's denied any ties to Russian Federation or knowledge of any campaign coordination with Moscow.

"This just isn't another wild tweet from the president", Sen.

But it quickly became clear that the president had been stewing for days over the Russian Federation investigation and Comey's refusal to defend him in appearances before lawmakers. A letter released to the public says his decision was based on the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein.

Leaders of the USA intelligence agencies, including director of national intelligence Dan Coats and CIA chief Mike Pompeo, on Thursday testified that they agreed with that finding. Friends of Mr. Comey's say that that was actually not the case from his point of view.

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