Trump: ‘I don’t think it’s inappropriate’ asking for FBI chief’s loyalty

President TrumpDonald John TrumpPaul Ryan defends Navy admiral after Trump's criticism Trump discussing visit overseas to troops following criticism: report Retired Army General: Trump is ‘acting like an 8th grader’ in attacking ex-Navy SEAL who led bin Laden operation MORE argued Friday that there is nothing “inappropriate” about asking for the FBI director’s loyalty, while denying that he made such a demand before firing former director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyQuestions grow about FBI vetting of Christopher Steele’s Russia expertise Ivanka Trump sent hundreds of emails about government business on personal account: report Mueller could turn easy Trump answers into difficult situation MORE.

"I don’t think it’s inappropriate, number one,” Trump told Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro in an interview airing Saturday before denying he made such a request of Comey.

“No, I didn’t,” Trump said. “But I don’t think it would be a bad question to ask. I think loyalty to the country, loyalty to the United States is important.”

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“You know, I mean it depends on how you define loyalty, number one. Number two, I don’t know how that got there, because I didn’t ask that question.”

The New York Times reported Thursday that Trump demanded that Comey pledge his loyalty to him during a dinner in late January, a week after Trump took office.

Comey reportedly told Trump he would always be honest with him, adding that he was not "reliable" in the political sense. Trump purportedly asked for Comey’s loyalty later in the meal and was again refused.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Friday denied that Trump sought Comey’s loyalty, saying, “The president wants loyalty to this country and to the rule of law.”

The Times’ account, which cited associates of Comey, came two days after Trump fired the FBI chief, sending ripples across Washington and raising questions about the timing of the ouster, which comes amid the FBI's probe into Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

Trump told NBC News that he asked Comey during their meal whether he was under investigation, saying Comey told him he wasn't. Comey's associates have denied that account to multiple media outlets.