The New York Times is reporting that U.S. President Donald Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office earlier this month that he had just fired FBI Director James Comey, calling Comey a "nut job."
The Times quoted a document read to the Times by a U.S. official. The document quoted Trump as saying "I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job."
According to the document, Trump went on to say, "I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off."
Trump also reportedly said, "I'm not under investigation."
On Thursday, The Times cited a friend of Comey's saying Comey was uneasy with the president's friendly overtures and struggled to maintain a professional boundary.
The Times cited Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution and frequent Trump critic, as saying Comey felt the contacts by Trump were inappropriate and that the now-former agency chief didn't want to be friendly with the president.
The contacts include a dinner in which Trump allegedly asked Comey to pledge his loyalty to the president, and a meeting with Comey in the Oval Office where Trump allegedly said he hoped the investigation into the president's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, could be dropped.
Two anonymous sources told The Times the president called Comey shortly after being inaugurated and asked if the FBI was ever going to specify that Trump was not personally under investigation.
According to those people, Comey said Trump should not contact him directly, but instead have a White House lawyer handle any inquiries to the Justice Department.
Reports say Comey wrote memos after each encounter with Trump detailing the contents of their conversations. Trump has denied making the Flynn request and the paper concedes that its reporter never actually saw any memos about the conversations.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said in a statement to the paper that "the sworn testimony" of both Comey and Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe "make clear that there was never any attempt to interfere in this investigation."
Congressional investigators have requested copies of all the Comey memos.
Comey, at the time of the Trump contacts, was overseeing an investigation into any possible links between the Trump campaign and Russian agents. Trump fired Comey as FBI director earlier this month.