WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump told Russian officials during a meeting last week that firing FBI Director James Comey relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a report from The New York Times.
Trump spoke about the decision to fire Comey one day after dismissing the top cop, The Times reported, citing a document that summarized the May 10 meeting. The document was read to the newspaper by an American official.
The Washington Post reported Monday that Trump shared classified, sensitive information related to the fight against the Islamic State May 10 during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.
The White House has denied the report.
"I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Trump said at the meeting, according to the Times report. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off. ... I'm not under investigation.”
Multiple investigations into ties between Russia and Trump and his advisers are ongoing. At least one is focused on whether Trump obstructed justice by pressuring Comey to drop his investigation into former National Security adviser Michael Flynn.
The White House has denied any wrongdoing by the president. Trump has characterized the investigations as being part of a "witch hunt."
In a statement released to The Times, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Comey put "unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia" because of Comey's "grandstanding and politicizing (of) the investigation into Russia's actions."
"The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it," Spicer said. "Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations.”
American journalists were barred from the May 10 meeting between Trump and Russian officials, although a photographer working for Russian state-owned media was allowed to photograph the event.
National Security adviser H.R. McMaster was also present for the meeting. He denied on Tuesday that anything inappropriate was discussed by Trump.