But just days later, Trump criticized Comey for "protecting" Clinton, despite the FBI's conclusion that criminal charges were unwarranted.following the election, President Trump called Comey "more famous than me".
In the termination letter to Mr Comey, Mr Trump thanked him for telling him "three times" that he personally is not under investigation for collusion with Russian Federation during his 2016 campaign.
Trump then doubled down on the idea in an interview with Fox News, saying: "We just don't have them, unless I have them every two weeks and I do them myself".
Trump unsuccessfully asked for Comey's loyalty again during the dinner, and Comey again declined, The Times said.
Sanders, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and even Vice President Mike Pence earlier had asserted, though, that Trump's firing decision was based on the deputy attorney general's memo.
Andrew McCabe, testifying before Congress Tuesday in place of his fired boss, contradicted the administration's characterizations of an investigation into potential coordination between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign to influence the presidential election.
Comey was directing investigations into connections between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, along with possible meddling by Moscow in the 2016 USA presidential election.More news: Trump Will Ask Israel to Curb West Bank Settlement Growth
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"I think we ought to get to the bottom line here: President Trump is unsafe", Durbin told MSNBC, the cable news channel.
Trump has frequently attacked the press during his four months in office, from cracks about "fake media" to threats to change libel laws, but this appears to be the first time he has gone so far as to threaten to do away with briefings altogether.
"The president has nothing further to add on that", Spicer said.
Rosenstein's memo mentioned Comey's mishandling of last year's investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. On Capitol Hill, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe strongly disputed the White House's assertion that Comey had been fired in part because he had lost the confidence of the FBI's rank-and-file.
Schmidt wrote: "Instead, Mr. Comey has recounted to others, he told Mr. Trump that he would always be honest with him, but that he was not "reliable" in the conventional political sense".
Former White House communications director Jen Psaki said the week's events had raised questions about whether Trump's spokespeople "are prepared, and whether credibility and honesty are valued". "I have found Director Comey to be a public servant of the highest order, and his dismissal further confuses an already hard investigation by the Committee".
At his Senate confirmation hearings, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a staunch Trump supporter, failed to disclose campaign-trail meetings he had with a Russian ambassador. "The FBI director has no credibility", said Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., this past January. On Thursday Trump said he would have fired Comey regardless of any such recommendations. In Congressional Testimony, Comey disclosed the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been investigating the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.