President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he fired FBI Director James Comey because "he was not doing a good job.”
"He wasn’t doing a good job," Trump said in the Oval Office, according to a pool report. "Very simply. He was not doing a good job."
Trump did not respond to a question about whether the next FBI director will oversee the ongoing investigation into Russia’s attempts to meddle in the presidential election. The probe is also looking into contacts between Trump’s associates and Russian officials.
Trump said the firing did not affect his meeting that day with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, "at all."
According to the pool report, Trump made the comments at a "surprise meeting" with Henry Kissinger.
The White House’s public explanation for the sudden ouster is that Trump took the Justice Department’s recommendation to fire Comey because he mishandled the close of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state.
But multiple news outlets, including POLITICO, have reported that Trump was unhappy with the FBI’s ongoing investigation into his campaign’s possible connections to the Russian government.
The firing has incensed Democrats who charge that Trump may be attempting to impede the investigation. Some Republicans have registered their concerns, too.
Intelligence officials say the Russians sought to meddle in last year’s presidential election, and help Trump’s standing in it, through cyberattacks on Democratic Party officials. The White House has repeatedly denied that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians on the attacks.