President Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey three times if he was under investigation, according to a new interview with the president.
Trump claims in an interview with "NBC Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt that he asked Comey whether he was the target of an investigation once during dinner and twice during phone calls.
Trump's new statement in the interview echoes his claim, made in a Tuesday letter firing Comey, that the FBI director had assured him three times that he wasn't under investigation amid the FBI's probe into Russian interference in the presidential election and whether there are possibly links between members of Trump's campaign and Moscow.
But associates of the former FBI director have denied Trump’s claim that Comey told him he wasn’t under investigation, saying that doing so would violate policies on criminal investigations, according to The Wall Street Journal.
In the NBC interview, Trump said he asked Comey whether he was under investigation during a dinner at which the pair discussed with Comey wanted to remain the head of the FBI.
“We had a very nice dinner at the White House very early on. I think he asked for the dinner. And he wanted to stay on as the FBI head,” Trump said in a Thursday interview.
“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.”
Trump also claimed that the two have talked by phone a few times. During those exchanges, Trump said that he asked Comey if he was under investigation.
“And during the phone call, he said it. And during the other phone call, he said it,” Trump said in the Thursday interview. “So, he said it once at dinner, and then he said it twice during phone calls.
“I know that I am not under investigation, me personally. I am not talking about campaigns, I’m not talking about anything else. I am not under investigation.”
But Comey associates pushed back on the idea that Comey assured Trump he wasn't under investigation.
“That is literally farcical,” one associate told the Journal.
Trump also said in the NBC interview that he was planning to fire Comey regardless of the Justice Department’s recommendation.
Trump's answer contradicts the White House’s account of Comey’s departure, which was that Trump only fired on the advice of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.