President Donald Trump, interviewed by NBC News’ Lester Holt two days after his firing of FBI Director James Comey set off a political firestorm, denied that there was any collusion “between me and my campaign and the Russians.”
NBC News ran lengthier excerpts of the interview on “NBC Nightly News” after airing portions in a special report on Thursday afternoon. He said that Comey was a “showboat” and that he had been thinking of firing him for some time.
Trump also denied that he had a financial stake in Russian firms. “No investments, non whatsoever,” he said.
Still, he denied that in firing Comey, he was trying to stall the FBI’s investigation into contacts between his campaign and Russian interests, saying that he wants the probe to happen.
“As far as I’m concerned, I want that thing to absolutely be done properly,” Trump said. “Maybe I’ll expand that, you know, lengthen the time (of the investigation) because it should be over with, in my opinion, should have been over with a long time ago.”
He insisted that Comey was fired because the “FBI has been in turmoil.”
“I just want somebody that’s competent,” he said.
Trump’s statements on his decision to fire Comey appeared to contradict those the White House made on Tuesday, that it was motivated by a memo that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein sent in which he said that Comey had lost credibility because of the way he handed the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
Trump, however, said that he was going to fire Comey “regardless” of Rosenstein’s recommendation.
“When I decided to just do it [and fire Comey], I said you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story,” Trump said. “IT’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.”