President Donald Trump asserted during an interview that former FBI director James Comey had given him three separate assurances that he was not personally under investigation for alleged Russian ties.
On May 11, Trump stated that he had asked Comey on three separate occasions if he was a part of the FBI investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign had colluded with Russian intelligence to subvert the 2016 presidential election.
"I actually asked him, yes," Trump told NBC News' Lester Holt. "I said, 'If it's possible, would let me know: Am I under investigation?' He said, 'You are not under investigation.'"
Trump said that Comey had given him the assurances "once at dinner and then he said it twice during phone calls."
When Holt noted that Comey may not have been at liberty to give Trump that assurance since he was investigating his campaign, Trump responded, "All I can tell you is ... I know I'm not under investigation. Me, personally ... I'm not talking about campaigns."
On May 9, Trump fired Comey from the FBI via a letter, citing that both he and the U.S. Department of Justice had lost confidence in his leadership.
"While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau," Trump wrote to Comey, according to CNBC.
Several legal experts have questioned Trump's assertion that Comey had given him assurances that he was not a subject of the FBI probe into the Trump campaign.
"It is an ongoing investigation; there is no possible way that Comey could a) know that Trump was cleared of any misconduct at this stage of the investigation and b) it would be inappropriate for the FBI director -- or any agent -- to advise a potential subject of an investigation of their status directly." former DOJ prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg told CNBC. "Wouldn't happen."
Professor Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School deemed Trump's assertion "a blatant lie ... It would have violated well-established DOJ rules and policies for the director to offer any such assurance to anyone, especially the president."
Former DOJ fraud prosecutor James Koukios said such assurances would be irregular, but that "it's possible they could have had the conversation."
Several Democratic lawmakers have accused Trump of firing Comey to squash the FBI probe into the Trump campaign. Comey reportedly informed several members of Congress that he had requested Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to provide more DOJ resources for the Russia investigation roughly a week before he was fired.
"I'm told that as soon as Rosenstein arrived, there was a request for additional resources for the investigation, and that a few days afterward, [Comey] was sacked," Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois told The New York Times. “I think the Comey operation was breathing down the neck of the Trump campaign and their operatives, and this was an effort to slow down the investigation.”
On May 11, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa called on the FBI to publicly clarify whether Trump is the subject of an investigation.
"[The FBI] should confirm to the public whether it is or is not investigating the president,” Grassley said, according to The Hill. "Because it has failed to make this clear, speculation has run rampant."