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Trump excoriates James Comey in NBC interview over FBI's handling of Clinton email investigation

President Donald Trump slams former FBI Director James Comey for "exonerating" Hillary Clinton in email case. (Image via Twitter/NBCNightlyNews)

President Donald Trump believes the case surrounding Hillary Clinton and her emails is black-and-white.

In a wide-ranging interview with NBC News anchor Lester Holt Friday, Trump offered some insight into his decision to fire James Comey as director of the FBI, suggesting the bureau's conclusion last summer over whether or not Clinton should face criminal charges for using a private email server played into his decision.

Asked by Holt whether Comey's firing resulted from the bureau's actions surrounding the case or the conclusion to not recommend charges, Trump explained he believes Comey never should have "exonerated" Clinton.

Trump began by acknowledging the FBI investigation into Clinton helped him as a presidential candidate.

"I will tell you that what he did, what Comey did, had good moments for me as a candidate. I’m only talking as a candidate, I’m not saying as president where I want to do what is right for the country necessarily, I’m talking purely as a candidate for me to get votes," Trump said.

The president went on to explain the circumstances surrounding the Clinton email scandal, details that Comey presented during his July press conferences announcing the FBI would not recommend criminal charges against Clinton.

The way Comey handled the situation is "disgraceful," according to Trump.

"When he came out with the scathing set of circumstances––the server, the illegal server, the e-mails, 33,000 e-mails that you get subpoenaed and then you don’t show and you erase those, you delete them, you get rid of them, you acid wash them," Trump said. "When he did all of that stuff, it was disgraceful when he’s covering everything point after point."

Trump continued: "I was with lawyers watching that. I happen to have lawyers, unrelated lawyers and they would say, 'Wow, she’s guilty here, guilty. Guilty. Guilty.' Then he gets to the end and he says she’s free as a bird."

In the end, Trump acknowledged that Comey had "a lot of pressure" put on him throughout the course of the investigation, but said that Comey "should have never exonerated" Clinton.

Trump fired Comey earlier this week over the way he handled the criminal probe into Clinton's use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. Critics, however, say that Trump fired Comey to slow down, or prevent altogether, the FBI's widening probe into the alleged connection between Trump's campaign and Russia during last year's presidential election.

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