President Trump said Thursday that he was going to fire FBI Director James Comey regardless of any Justice Department recommendation.
"NBC Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt asked Trump about the timing of Comey's dismissal and the president's meeting on Monday with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein. According to the Washington Post, Trump had already made his mind up about Comey but told them to make a case in writing for Comey's dismissal.
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The White House initially said Trump made the decision because he took the recommendation of the Justice Department, but it then said on Wednesday that the president had been considering firing Comey ever since he was elected.
"I was going to fire regardless of recommendation," Trump told Holt. "[Rosenstein] made a recommendation. He's highly respected. Very good guy, very smart guy. The Democrats like him. The Republicans like him. He made a recommendation, but regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey."
In his letter to Comey informing the now-former FBI head of his dismissal, Trump cited the Justice Department's judgment on the matter, writing, "While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau."
In the interview with Holt, Trump elaborated on those remarks, saying he had a dinner with Comey where he asked if he was under investigation. According to Trump, Comey said he was not, and he also repeated the same during two other phone calls.