U.S. President Donald Trump told NBC News on Thursday he planned to fire FBI Director James Comey regardless of the Justice Department’s recommendation.
"I was going to fire regardless of the recommendation,” Trump said in the interview, which took place two days after the White House announced Comey’s dismissal. “Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.”
"He's a showboat, he's grandstander, the FBI has been in turmoil," he continued. "You know that, I know that. Everybody knows that. You take a look at the FBI a year ago, it was in virtual turmoil, less than a year ago. It hasn't recovered from that."
The comments are contradictory to ones made by the White House, which previously said Trump only decided to oust Comey after meeting Monday with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, reported The Hill.
The next day, Rosenstein submitted a written memo criticizing the FBI Director's handling of the probe into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server.
Vice President Pence told reporters multiple times Wednesday Trump fired Comey because he had accepted "the recommendation of the deputy attorney general."
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday denied that Trump had already decided to fire Comey before meeting Rosenstein on Monday.
Trump on Thursday made it clear it was always his call alone to fire Comey, who was leading the FBI's probe of Russia's meddling in the election and possible ties to Trump's campaign.
The President also repeated his claim that Comey told him on three separate occasions he is not personally under investigation as part of the FBI’s probe into his team’s alleged ties to Russia.
“I know that I am not under investigation, me personally,” Trump told NBC News. “I am not talking about campaigns, I’m not talking about anything else. I am not under investigation.”