Trump told NBC News that he was frustrated by the ongoing investigation and believed it was motivated by Democrats’ fury at losing the election.
It was the first time that Trump had explicitly tied the Russia probe to his rationale for firing Comey. It was one of a series of explanations for dismissing the FBI director, some of which directly those offered earlier by top White House officials.
Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt: “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, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won’.”
The interview on Thursday capped a week of contradictory statements on Comey.
• In his NBC interview on Thursday, Trump further contradicted his officials, saying he would have dismissed Comey whatever the deputy attorney general had said, describing him as a “showboat” who had lost confidence of many in the bureau.
“As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!….,” he tweeted.
Russia probe needs to be ‘done properly’
In his NBC interview, Trump denied that he wanted to derail the FBI’s Russia investigation. The probe, Trump said, needs “to be absolutely done properly.”
“I want that to be so strong and so good,” he said. “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.” The President has long insisted the investigation will not discover any wrongdoing. He also reiterated his longstanding claim that he “has nothing to do with Russia,” saying he doesn’t own property there and has had no business ties aside from hosting the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow “a long time ago.”
But Trump’s admission that the Russia investigation was on his mind when he fired Comey prompted suggestions that he could be accused of obstructing justice.