President Trump called former FBI Director James B. Comey a “nut job” and boasted to Russian officials in an Oval Office meeting this month that firing him took off “great pressure,” according to a report Thursday.
“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump reportedly said in the meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
The conversation between Mr. Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov the day after the abrupt firing of Mr. Comey was in a document summarizing the meeting. The document was read to the New York Times.
Mr. Trump also reportedly insisted, “I’m not under investigation.”
The exchange reinforces the perception that the Comey firing was related to the FBI probe of Trump campaign links to Russian spies that interfered in the U.S. presidential election. Mr. Trump previously said in a TV interview that the Russia investigation was on his mind when he fired Mr. Comey.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer did not dispute the account of the conversation.
“By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia,” he said in a statement. “The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it. Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations.”