President Trump on Wednesday defended firing FBI Director James Comey as the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election continues.
During a press conference in the Rose Garden, Trump again denied that he asked Comey to stop the FBI’s Russia probe and blamed the move on “a lot of things.”
Trump said the decision to fire Comey came after the FBI director made an “unfair” suggestion about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails.
“He said to me, ‘Look, this is a Russia investigation.
You know why?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know.’
And he said, I can’t do it, he said that,” Trump said.”
And I said that, and he said I have to,” Trump continued.”
I said, okay, well you’ve got to do it.
And I’m going to do what’s right for the country.”
Trump added that he believes the president is in charge of the investigation.
“When I say I’m in charge, I mean I’m the one who’s in charge,” Trump added.
“When I’m not in charge I can call the shots.”
Comey fired Comey on May 9 amid the FBI investigation into the Russian interference campaign.
Comey testified to Congress in May that the president had pressured him to end the investigation and said the president told him he wanted to fire him.
Trump said Thursday that he was not asking Comey to end or change the investigation, but said that Comey had asked him to stop it and that he believed he was in charge.
“If I asked him if I was in control, I would say that,” the president said.
“I’m in control.
That’s the reason I fired him.”
Trump’s comments came as lawmakers, including Rep. Adam Schiff of California, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, were considering whether to investigate whether Trump obstructed justice by firing Comey.
In a letter to Trump on Thursday, Schiff said that Trump’s actions violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits lawmakers from interfering in the executive branch’s investigations.
“The Hatch Act does not apply to the conduct of the President, as the President’s conduct is directly contrary to the law,” Schiff wrote.
“President Trump has engaged in a series of illegal and unconstitutional actions and has ignored the law, including the Hatch and Whistleblower Protection Act.
Congress must immediately investigate the President for obstruction of justice, including by impeachment, as a means of restoring trust and restoring the rule of law,” the letter concluded.