This might take some heat off Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has been cast as something of a villain in the firing of FBI chief James Comey. President Trump tells NBC News that he planned to fire Comey anyway, even without the critical memo written by Rosenstein. "I was going to fire Comey," he tells Lester Holt. "Regardless of the recommendation, I was going to fire Comey." He went on to call Comey a "grandstander" and a "showboat." Trump did not address why the White House has previously cited the Rosenstein memo for the move. Sean Spicer, for example, said of the firing and Rosenstein's role: "It was all him," per Slate. And VP Mike Pence on Wednesday referred to the "president's decision to accept the recommendation of the deputy attorney general and the attorney general to remove Director Comey," per CNN.
In the NBC interview, Trump also said that he'd asked Comey whether he was under investigation, and Comey had told him he wasn't. "I said, if it's possible would you let me know, 'Am I under investigation?' He said, 'You are not under investigation.'" He said he had no intention of meddling in the FBI's investigation of any Russian role in the election and said he wanted the truth uncovered. And he reiterated that he fired Comey not because of that investigation but because he thought Comey was doing a bad job. "He's a showboat, he's grandstander, the FBI has been in turmoil," Trump said. "You know that, I know that. Everybody knows that. You take a look at the FBI a year ago, it was in virtual turmoil, less than a year ago. It hasn't recovered from that." (Read more President Trump stories.)