During an interview with NBC's Lester Holt, which is set to air in its entirety Thursday night, President Trump said he planned to fire FBI Director James Comey regardless of recommendations from the Justice Department.
"I was going to fire regardless of recommendation," Trump said. "He's a showboat, he's a grand-stander, the FBI has been in turmoil. 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."
According to testimony given Thursday to the Senate Intelligence Committee by Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, the FBI is not in turmoil and agents had full confidence in Comey's leadership.
Further, Trump's comments slightly contradict statements made by Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders during Wednesday's press briefing. White House officials have been arguing since Tuesday Trump made his decision to fire Comey based on DOJ recommendations to do so.
Q Sarah, isn’t it true that the President had already decided to fire James Comey, and he asked the Justice Department to put together the rationale for that firing?
MS. SANDERS: No.
Q When did he make the decision?
MS. SANDERS: He made the decision for -- the final decision to move forward with it was yesterday. But I know that he’s been contemplating it for a while.
Q But how do you explain what Dianne Feinstein says, that the President told her that he was concerned with the mess at the FBI and asked the Justice Department to look into it?
MS. SANDERS: I can't speak for Senator Feinstein, but I did speak directly to the President and heard directly from him that he, again, had been considering letting Director Comey go pretty much since the day he took office, but that there was no request by him to have a review at the Department of Justice.
Q But was the reason for the firing what was written by the Deputy Attorney General? Is that why he did it?
MS. SANDERS: That was, I think, the final piece that moved the President to make that quick and decisive action yesterday.
Trump's statement contradicts Vice President Mike Pence.
This post has been updated with additional information.