President Trump on Wednesday defended his firing of James Comey, saying the former FBI director “was not doing a good job.”
Trump made his first public remarks since the firing during an Oval Office meeting with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
The White House invited the media to view the meeting for eight minutes as reporters shouted questions at Trump.
“He was not doing a good job,” Trump said, referring to Comey. “Very simply, he was not doing a good job.”
Trump did not respond to a reporter’s question about whether the new FBI director would be in charge of the bureau’s investigation into possible ties between the president’s campaign and Moscow.
The White House is in crisis mode as it seeks to quell an uproar over the president’s abrupt firing of Comey, who was spearheading the Russia investigation.
Trump also insisted that Comey’s firing did not impact a discussion Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Moscow’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kysliak, earlier in the day.
“Not at all,” Trump said.
Trump fired his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, for lying to Vice President Pence about the nature of a meeting Flynn had with Kysliak. Attorney General Jeff Sessions later recused himself from the investigation into Russian meddling in the election after it was revealed he did not disclose a meeting with Kysliak in public testimony to a congressional panel.
Trump on Wednesday described the meeting with the Russian diplomats as “very, very good” and said both sides agreed to work toward ending “the killing – the horrible, horrible killing in Syria as soon as possible.”
“Everyone is working toward that end,” Trump said.
Democrats and many in the media have cast the Comey firing as a “constitutional crisis,” accusing the president of seeking to bury an FBI investigation into alleged collusion between Trump campaign officials and Moscow.
In addition to his comments at the White House, Trump went on a Twitter tirade early Wednesday attacking his critics and defending the decision.
Trump told reporters he met with Kissinger to talk “about Russia and various other matters.”
“We’re talking about Syria and I think that we’re going to do very well with respect to Syria and things are happening that are really, really, really positive,” Trump said. “We’re going to stop the killing and the death.”
The president has consulted with the former secretary of State during the GOP primaries and after the election on issues related to foreign policy.
Trump said it was “an honor” to discuss the issues with Kissinger because “he’s been a friend of mine for a long time.”