Having thrown the official White House "Comey termination" narrative for a tailspin, when in an excerpt from his NBC News interview posted earlier, Trump said he was going to fire Comey "regardless" even without getting Deputy AG Rosenstein's report and that Comey had told Trump he was not under investigation, moments ago NBC released several more excerpts from the much anticipated Trump interview.
The key highlight of the latest release is that Trump said he supports a full investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election last year, saying he wants the probe to be done "absolutely properly."
"I want to find out if there was a problem with the election having to do with Russia.... If Russia or anybody else is trying to interfere with our elections I think it’s a horrible thing and I want to get to the bottom of it and I want to make sure it will never ever happen.”
Trump told Lester Holt but also insisted there was "no collusion between me and my campaign and the Russians." Instead, "this was set up by the Democrats."
"The other thing is, the Russians did not affect the vote, and everybody seems to think that" he added.
"As far as I'm concerned, I want that thing to be absolutely done properly," Trump said. "Maybe I'll expand that, you know, lengthen the time (of the Russia probe) because it should be over with, in my opinion, should have been over with a long time ago. 'Cause all it is, is an excuse but I said to myself, I might even lengthen out the investigation, but I have to do the right thing for the American people."
Speaking about the investigation, Trump added that "I want that to be so strong and so good. And I want it to happen."
Asked if Comey was fired to send a "lay off" message to his successor, Trump denied: "I'm not."
Trump also said that "when I decided to [fire Comey], I said to myself, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story", a statement which may lead to the next round of media onslaught as the obvious logical extension is why fire Comey, if the story was made up.
The NBC News anchor also asked Trump about the war in Afghanistan, which some administration officials want to expand, but Trump immediately changed the subject to the fight against ISIS, which he said was going well.
"I will say this, most importantly, we are making incredible strides against ISIS and next week (Defense Secretary) General Mattis and my generals are going to be having a major news conference to inform the public and the world how well we've done against ISIS. We have done really well."
Full 13 minutes extended interview below