US President Donald Trump on Thursday insisted that he is not under FBI investigation for possible collusion between his presidential campaign officials and Moscow.
Trump’s statement came even as acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe on Thursday told Congress that the Russian probe is “highly significant” and will continue.
Trump told NBC News it was his decision alone to sack Comey, who was leading an inquiry into alleged Russian meddling in the US election and possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and Moscow.
Trump has dismissed the probe as a “charade”, a claim directly contradicted by Comey’s successor, the BBC said in its report.
In his first interview since firing the FBI Director, Trump told NBC News on Thursday he had asked Comey whether he was under investigation.
“I said, if it’s possible would you let me know, ‘Am I under investigation?’ He said: ‘You are not under investigation.’”
“I know I’m not under investigation,” Trump told the interviewer, repeating a claim he made in his Tuesday’s letter of dismissal to Comey.
The President also appeared to undercut the initial White House explanation that he fired Comey on the recommendation of top justice officials, the BBC reported.
“He’s (Comey) a showboat. He’s a grandstander. The FBI has been in turmoil. I was going to fire Comey. My decision,” Trump said. “I was going to fire regardless of recommendation.”
“There’s no collusion between me and my campaign and the Russians,” Trump added.
Trump, who tweeted a few days back that the Russia-Trump collusion allegations were a “total hoax”, on Thursday denied he wanted the FBI inquiry dropped.
The White House has depicted the Russia inquiry as “probably one of the smallest things” that the FBI has “got going on their plate”.
But acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe said on Thursday that it was “a highly significant investigation”.
In testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, McCabe also cast doubt on White House claims that Comey had lost the confidence of his staff.
McCabe said he believed the Federal Bureau of Investigation had sufficient funding to conduct the probe.
(With IANS inputs)