President Trump told Russian officials that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting.
“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
The conversation, which took place earlier this month in the Oval Office, reinforces the notion that Trump dismissed Comey primarily because of the bureau’s investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russian operatives, the Times reported.
Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, did not dispute the account.
In response to the New York Times report, Spicer issued the following statement to NBC News:
"The President has always emphasized the importance of making deals with Russia as it relates to Syria, Ukraine, defeating ISIS and other key issues for the benefit and safety of the American people. By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia's actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia. The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it. Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations."