President Donald Trump claimed that he fired FBI Director James Comey because of his incompetence, and said that he wanted the investigation into alleged Russian collusion "absolutely done properly."
"When I decided to just do it I said to myself, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story," Trump said in an interview with Lester Holt on NBC News. "It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.
"And the reason they should have won it is the electoral college is almost impossible for a Republican to win — very hard," he explained. "Because you start off at such a disadvantage. So everybody was thinking they should have won the election."
"This was an excuse for having lost an election," he said.
"But are you angry with Mr. Comey because of his Russia investigation?" Holt asked.
"I just want somebody that's competent," Trump responded. "I am a big fan of the FBI. I love the FBI. I love the people of the FBI."
"But were you a fan of him taking up the investigation?" Holt asked about the investigation into alleged Russian collusion.
"Look, look, let me tell you," Trump said, "as far as I'm concerned I want that thing to be absolutely done properly."
"When I did this now, I said, I probably maybe will confuse people," he explained, "maybe I'll expand that, y'know I'll lengthen the time. Because it should be over with, in my opinion it should have been over a long time ago. Because all it is, is an excuse. But I said to myself, I might even lengthen out the investigation."
"But I have to do the right thing for the American people," Trump concluded. "He's the wrong man for that position."
— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) May 11, 2017
In an clip from the same interview released earlier Thursday, Trump appeared to contradict the reasoning put out by the administration Wednesday for the firing.
“I was going to fire Comey, my decision,” Trump said. “I was going to fire Comey. There’s no good time to do it, by the way. I was going to fire regardless of recommendation.”
Tuesday, the administration said that Trump was following the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had recused himself from the investigation into Russian collusion.
“President Trump acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions," the statement read.
When pressed on the discrepancy, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday there was no inconsistency between the two statements.