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Lester Holt Talks Tonight’s Interview with Donald Trump (Watch)

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*President Donald Trump sat down for an exclusive interview Thursday with NBC News’ Lester Holt and clips of the exchange released earlier today ahead of its official debut on tonight’s “NBC Nightly News” have already made headlines.

The biggest involved Trump’s surprise firing of FBI director James Comey, whom Trump called out as a “showboat” and a “grandstander” responsible for chaos at the bureau. Trump then said that he asked Comey on three separate occasions whether he was under investigation for alleged ties to Russia, a move that reeks of conflict of interest.

It would be highly unusual for the focus of an FBI investigation to ask the person investigating him whether or not he was the target of a probe, and then to be directly told by the FBI director that he was not.

“I actually asked him” if I were under investigation, Trump said, noting that he spoke with Comey once over dinner and twice by phone.

“I said, if it’s possible would you let me know, ‘Am I under investigation?’ He said, ‘You are not under investigation.'”

“I know I’m not under investigation,” Trump told Holt during the 31-minute White House interview.

Also, Trump’s press aides Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Huckabee Sanders had previously stated that the president fired Comey only after Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, recommended to him that Comey be let go. Also, Trump repeated the claim in his pink slip to Comey, saying he was acting on the recommendation of the Justice Department. Additionally, Vice President Mike Pence told reporters that Trump was following the advice of Sessions and Rosenstein in firing Comey.

But Trump told Lester Holt that it was his decision alone to fire Comey, long before the recommendation of Sessions and Rosenstein.

“I was going to fire Comey — my decision,” he told Holt. “I was going to fire regardless of recommendation. He made a recommendation. He’s highly respected, very good guy, very smart guy. The Democrats like him. The Republicans like him. He made a recommendation. But regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.”

In explaining some of the contradictions within the Trump administration’s explanation of Comey’s firing, Holt told MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace today: “I think we all recognize that sometimes they’re not always on the same page. He is his own man. He makes his calls, he does things as he sees fit and I don’t know that he always necessarily communicates those things to the people who stand up at the podium in a timely way.”

Watch a preview of Holt’s interview with Trump below:

On Wednesday, Trump claimed he fired Comey because “he was not doing a good job” and the White House on cited the FBI chief’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation as the reason they were firing the veteran G-man.

The Democrats, many of whom believe that Comey’s intrusion into the election helped Trump win the presidency, immediately denounced the move and called for the appointment of a special prosecutor as New York Senator Charles Schumer suggested a “cover-up” was underway.

“The timing of Director Comey’s dismissal to me and many committee members on both sides of the aisle is especially troubling,” Senator Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, said Thursday at the opening of a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

“He was leading an active counterintelligence investigation into any links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government or its representatives, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts to interfere in our election,” he said.

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