President Donald Trump said Wednesday that former FBI Director James Comey was not fired because of the Russia investigation – a statement directly at odds with the President’s own comments on Comey’s dismissal.
“Slippery James Comey, the worst FBI Director in history, was not fired because of the phony Russia investigation where, by the way, there was NO COLLUSION (except by the Dems)!” Trump tweeted.
However, Trump had told NBC News last year that he was thinking of “this Russia thing” when he decided to fire Comey.
When the President fired Comey last May, the White House initially cited a recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who sharply criticized Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state.
A few days later, after Comey’s ouster, Trump told NBC News’ Lester Holt in an interview, “regardless of (Rosenstein’s) recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.”
“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,’” Trump said.
Asked about Trump’s tweet on ABC’s “The View” later Wednesday, Comey said he didn’t know why he was fired. But he said he took Trump “at his word” when he explained to Holt that Russia was the motivating factor.
“Today’s tweet, which I’ve seen – I don’t follow him on Twitter, but I’ve seen the tweet – both of those things can’t be true,” Comey said, referring to the Clinton and Russia investigations as the competing explanations behind his dismissal. “I actually think that illustrates part of the problem that I’m trying to bring up. It matters that the President is not committed to the truth as a central American value.”
CNN’s Clare Foran and James Griffiths contributed to this report.