Here’s What Trump Actually Said to Lester Holt

Holt Trump

The media has never been capable of listening to Donald Trump and actually hearing what he says. After constant coverage for three years, you would think they would have caught on by now.

From the very first campaign speech, the media has misquoted Trump, and to this day continue to do so. Trump did not call Mexicans rapists and criminals. He said "they're" sending "their" rapists. He has repeated that countries send "their worst" many times.

If you haven't noticed, Trump has a stream of consciousness manner of speaking. Which brings us to the latest example of the media clamoring, "But he told Lester Holt it was about Russia!"

If you actually go back and watch to the entire interview Trump never said he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation. In fact, he tells Holt three times he wants the investigation to continue, and said he expected the investigation would go on regardless of whether Comey was at the FBI or not.

Here is what Trump said about the Russia investigation during the interview:

"I want that thing to be absolutely done properly."

"I want to find out if there was a problem with an election having to do with Russia, or by the way, anybody else, any other country. And I want that to be so strong and so good, and I want it to happen."

"But I want to find out, I want to get to the bottom—if Russia hacked, if Russia did anything having to do with our election. I want to know about it."

Trump even tells Holt he thought about expanding the investigation. Sure sounds like he thought firing Comey would stop that Russia investigation for good!

The media has selective hearing when it comes to Trump. They hear what they want to hear. He has an unusual manner of speaking, sure. But after listening to one Trump rally, you should notice he has a tendency to go off on tangents.

Take, for example, this sentence from his CPAC speech earlier this year:

And think of it in terms of immigration and you may love it or you may say isn't that terrible? Okay. If you say isn't that terrible, who cares. Because the way they treat me, that's peanuts compared to the way they treat me. Okay. Immigration.

Not exactly the easiest to follow, especially out of context. The one line critics pull out of the Lester Holt interview is when Trump pivots from talking about firing Comey to Russia, and his argument that it's a made up story and excuse for Democrats losing the election.

"He's a showboat. He's a grandstander," Trump tells Holt, explaining why he fired Comey. "The FBI has been in turmoil. You know that. I know that. Everybody knows that. You take a look at the FBI a year ago it was in virtual turmoil. Less than a year ago. It hasn't recovered from that."

Holt then asks if Trump requested Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for a recommendation calling for Comey to be fired. Trump says he had already made up his mind to fire Comey, saying, "There's no good time to do it, by the way."

"You had already made the decision?" Holt asks.

"Oh, I was going to fire regardless of recommendation," Trump said. "[Rosenstein] made a recommendation, but regardless of the recommendation I was going to fire Comey. Knowing there was no good time to do it."

That's certainly true. And already, before the interview with Holt, the media was pushing the narrative Trump had fired Comey over an "accelerating" Russia investigation.

"And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won,'" Trump said. "The reason they should have won is the Electoral College is almost impossible for a Republican to win. Very hard. Because you start off at a such a disadvantage. So everybody was thinking they should have won the election. This was an excuse for having lost an election."

Translation: "I wanted to fire him a long time ago. And it was never going to be a good time. So now they'll say it was because of Russia, but who cares? It's a made up story anyway. [Insert tangent on Electoral College]."

The media leaps from this line to Trump fired Comey because he was "thinking" about Russia at the time. Trump admitted to obstructing justice on national television!

But what else did he say about the investigation?

When asked whether he was "angry" at Comey because of the Russia investigation Trump says, "I just want somebody that's competent. I am a big fan of the FBI. I love the FBI. I love the people of the FBI."

"But were you a fan of him taking up that investigation?" Holt said.

"I think that—about the Hillary Clinton investigation?" Trump asked.

"No, about the Russia investigation," Holt said. "And a possible link."

"No, I don't care," Trump said.

He didn't care because, as far as he was concerned, there was no Trump and Russia link. He wasn't under investigation, Comey told him so three times. He goes on to reiterate that people might think he fired Comey over Russia. He might have to lengthen the investigation, but it didn't matter because there is no Russia collusion, and firing Comey was the right thing to do.

"Look, look. Let me tell you," Trump said. "As far as I'm concerned, I want that thing to be absolutely done properly. When I did this now, I said, ‘I probably, maybe will confuse people, maybe I'll expand that, I'll lengthen the time,' because it should be over with—in my opinion, it should have been over with a long time ago, because 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. He's the wrong man for that position."

What else does Holt ask?

Holt: Did you ask him to drop the investigation?

Trump: No. Never.

Holt: Did anyone from the White House ask him to end the investigation?

Trump: No. Why would we do that?

Trump later said all what he wants is the new appointment to be "very simply, a great FBI director."

"And will you expect that they would continue on with the investigation?" Holt asked.

"Oh, yeah sure. I expect that."

According to the media, Trump admitted to "obstruction of justice" on national television by saying he fired Comey because of that "Russia thing." In reality, Trump said he fired Comey because he was an incompetent showboat, supported getting to the bottom of what Russia did in 2016, and said he knew that the investigation would continue without him.