Donald Trump Says He Decided to Fire James Comey Before Rosenstein Meeting -- 2nd Update

By Michael C. Bender Features Dow Jones Newswires

President Donald Trump said he had already made up his mind to fire FBI Director James Comey before meeting with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein earlier this week, in contrast to statements from White House officials on when the decision was made.

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"Regardless of [the] recommendation, I was going to fire Comey," Mr. Trump said in an interview Thursday with NBC News.

That detail contradicted his White House staff, who said repeatedly on Tuesday and Wednesday that Mr. Trump didn't make his final decision until receiving a letter on Tuesday from Mr. Rosenstein that was deeply critical of Mr. Comey.

Mr. Rosenstein met with Mr. Trump on Monday, where they discussed Mr. Comey's job performance. At the White House's prompting, Mr. Rosenstein Tuesday wrote a memo to the president detailing his concerns about the director's conduct.

The president's termination letter to Mr. Comey, sent Tuesday, cited memos he had received from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Mr. Rosenstein.

In the NBC interview, Mr. Trump also said he asked Mr. Comey on at least one occasion whether he was under investigation.

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"I actually asked him, yes," Mr. Trump said in the interview. "I said, 'If it's possible will you let know, am I under investigation? He said, 'You are not under investigation.' "

Write to Michael C. Bender at Mike.Bender@wsj.com

President Donald Trump said he had already made up his mind to fire FBI Director James Comey before receiving a letter from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein earlier this week, in contrast to statements from White House officials on when the decision was made.

"Regardless of [the] recommendation, I was going to fire Comey," Mr. Trump said in an interview Thursday with NBC News.

That detail contradicted his White House staff, who said repeatedly on Tuesday and Wednesday that Mr. Trump didn't make his final decision until receiving a letter on Tuesday from Mr. Rosenstein that was deeply critical of Mr. Comey.

Mr. Rosenstein met with Mr. Trump on Monday, where they discussed Mr. Comey's job performance. At the White House's prompting, Mr. Rosenstein Tuesday wrote a memo to the president detailing his concerns about the director's conduct.

The president's termination letter to Mr. Comey, sent Tuesday, cited memos he had received from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Mr. Rosenstein.

In the NBC interview, Mr. Trump also said he asked Mr. Comey on at least one occasion whether he was under investigation.

"I actually asked him, yes," Mr. Trump said in the interview. "I said, 'If it's possible will you let know, am I under investigation? He said, 'You are not under investigation.' "

In all, Mr. Trump said Mr. Comey told him three times he wasn't under investigation, offering more details on his earlier statement -- contained in his letter firing Mr. Comey -- that Mr. Comey had informed him three times that he wasn't being probed.

Mr. Trump said one of these three times he was told was at a dinner with the former director, which Mr. Trump said was requested by Mr. Comey with the aim of keeping his job. The two other times were over the phone, one initiated by Mr. Comey and one by Mr. Trump, the president said. It was during one of those phone calls that Mr. Trump said he asked Mr. Comey questions about the investigation.

Write to Michael C. Bender at Mike.Bender@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 11, 2017 14:22 ET (18:22 GMT)