Trump confirms FBI probe, blames ‘Witch Hunt’ on ‘Man who told me to fire’ Comey
Pres. Donald Trump is interviewed by NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt. NBC News photo
BY DANIEL ARKIN, NBC News
(NBC News) - President Donald Trump appeared to confirm in a tweet on Friday that he is under investigation for firing former FBI Director James Comey and blamed what he called a "Witch Hunt" on "the man who told me to fire" Comey — a possible reference to the deputy attorney general.
"I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt," Trump tweeted. NBC News has reported that federal investigators are examining whether the president attempted to obstruct justice.
Trump may have been referring to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who wrote a highly critical memo about Comey. In separate closed-door meetings with the House and the Senate, Rosenstein said his memo was "not a statement of reasons to justify a for-cause termination."
The Justice Department declined to comment on Friday.
The probe is being led by special counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed by Rosenstein. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the widening investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
After 7 months of investigations & committee hearings about my "collusion with the Russians," nobody has been able to show any proof. Sad!
In an interview with NBC's Lester Holt on May 11, Trump said he was "going to fire [Comey] regardless of recommendation" from Rosenstein and Sessions. In a letter to Trump, Sessions called for a "fresh start" at the FBI and recommended Comey's removal.
"What I did is I was going to fire Comey. My decision," Trump told Holt, a day after the White House had said the president fired Comey based on a recommendation from Rosenstein.
As part of his probe into possible obstruction, Mueller has requested interviews with senior intelligence officials about their conversations with Trump, a former senior intelligence official with knowledge of the discussions confirmed to NBC News.
Those who have agreed to be interviewed include: Dan Coats, director of national intelligence; Mike Rogers, chief of the National Security Agency; and Richard Ledgett, who recently left his post as deputy to Rogers.
At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last week, Coats and Rogers refused to say whether Trump asked them to intervene in the investigation, which is also examining whether the Trump campaign team colluded with Russia during last year's presidential campaign.