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Trump called James Comey a “nut job,” told Russians firing him took pressure off Russia probe
President Trump told Russian officials earlier this month that former FBI Director James Comey was a “nut job,” and said firing him took care of “great pressure” he had been facing, the New York Times reported Friday.
The reported conversation between Trump and the Russians happened on May 10, when Russia’s ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, and foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, visited the White House one day after Comey was fired.
During the meeting, Trump told the Russians about Comey’s termination and called the ousted director “crazy, a real nut job,” the Times reported.
“I faced great pressure because of Russia,” Trump reportedly added. “That’s taken off.”
The comments were recorded in a document summarizing the meeting, which an unnamed US official read to the Times.
The White House responded to the Times’ story in a statement saying Trump “has always emphasized the importance of making deals with Russia.” It went on to accuse Comey of “grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions,” creating “unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia.”
“The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it,” the White House added. “Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations.”
The May 10 meeting had already become highly controversial after it was revealed, earlier this week, that Trump shared classified information with the Russians.
The president has also faced backlash for firing Comey, who had been leading an investigation into Russia’s influence in last year’s presidential election. Many of the president’s critics — citing a continuous string of headlines in recent weeks — have accused him of firing Comey in an effort influence that investigation.
News that Trump described Comey’s firing as a relief from “pressure” over Russia is likely to bolster their argument.
— Jim Dalrymple II