Trump Says He Was Thinking Of ‘Russia Thing’ In Decision To Fire Comey

Evan Vucci/AP

President Donald Trump said Thursday that he was thinking about the investigation into his campaign’s possible coordination with Russia when he fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday.

Trump began an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, which the network aired in full Thursday night, by saying that he would have fired Comey regardless of Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s recommendation to him, “knowing there was no good time to do it,” he said.

“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,” he continued, adding: “This was an excuse for having lost an election.”

He said later that he simply wanted a “competent” FBI director, and that “As far as I’m concerned, I want that thing to be absolutely done properly,” referring to the investigation.

But he added, contradicting himself, that he had considered unilaterally attempting to “lengthen” the investigation, seemingly in order to contradict the negative optics of firing Comey. 

“When I did this now I said, I probably, maybe will confuse people, maybe I’ll expand that, you know, I’ll lengthen the time, because it should be over with, in my opinion, it should have been over with a long time ago, because all it is, is, an excuse.” 

“But I said to myself, I might even lengthen out the investigation, but I have to do the right thing for the American people,” he continued, adding of Comey: “He’s the wrong man for that position.”

Watch Holt’s extended interview with Trump below. Discussion of the Democrats begins at 1:00:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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