The conversation reinforces the notion that the president dismissed Comey primarily because of the FBI’s inquiry into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the FBI director, James Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting.
“I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by a U.S. official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”
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Seattle Times news services
The conversation, during a May 10 meeting — the day after he fired Comey — reinforces the notion that Trump dismissed him primarily because of the bureau’s investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives. Trump said as much in one televised interview, but the administration has offered changing justifications for the firing.
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The White House document that contained 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.
On a day the administration hoped that Trump could leave scandalous allegations at home as he began his first trip abroad as president, the development was unwelcome at the White House.
Sean Spicer, Trump’s press secretary, did not dispute the account of the Oval Office statements. He said in a statement that 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 group.
“By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia,” Spicer said. “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…