During an Oval Office meeting with Russian officials, President Donald Trump said that fired FBI director James Comey was a "nut job" and that removing him relieved "great pressure," according to a Friday afternoon report in the "New York Times." The source of the remarks was a document summarizing the meeting.
“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to the "Times" by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation,” according to the Times.
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Trump made the remarks to Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and several other Russian officials on May 10, the day after he fired Comey, the head of the investigation into whether Trump's campaign cooperated or colluded with Russians to influence the 2016 election.
"The White House document that contained Mr. Trump’s comments was based on notes taken from inside the Oval Office and has been circulated as the official account of the meeting. One official read quotations to The Times, and a second official confirmed the broad outlines of the discussion," the paper reported.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer did not dispute that the revelations were accurate. "In a statement, he said that Mr. Comey had put unnecessary pressure on the president’s ability to conduct diplomacy with Russia on matters such as Syria, Ukraine and the Islamic State," said the Times.
With the meeting, Trump had already stoked controversy on at least three fronts: He did not allow American press to cover the event, while letting in a photographer from the Russian state-controlled news agency TASS; unauthorized attendees may have breached Oval Office security and planted spy devices; and he reportedly met with Lavrov at the request of Russian president Vladimir Putin.