Donald Trump told Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting that firing former FBI Director James Comey eased pressure caused by an investigation into Russia’s influence in the 2016 campaign, the New York Times reports.
“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr Trump said, according to a document detailing the Russian visit. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
The President also reiterated that he was not personally under investigation.
The document, which was read to the New York Times by sources in the White House, is the latest evidence that Mr Trump fired Mr Comey at least in part because of an ongoing investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russian officials. He had previously admitted that the investigation was part of the reasoning for the decision.
Mr Comey’s ouster followed requests from the President that he stop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign for misrepresenting a conversation he had with Russian officials to Vice President Mike Pence. It was later discovered that the Trump administration knew about Mr Flynn’s connections to Russia – which also include payments for a speech to the Russian state supported news organisation RT – even before bringing him into the White House. Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates had also warned the White House that Mr Flynn was potentially vulnerable to Russian extortion nearly three weeks before he stepped down.