WATCH: In Interview With Lester Holt, Trump Calls Comey a “Showboat” and says he Asked Fired Director If he Was Under Investigation

President Donald Trump, in an exclusive interview Thursday with NBC News’ Lester Holt, called ousted FBI chief James Comey a “showboat” and revealed he asked Comey whether he was under investigation for alleged ties to Russia. 

“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.

It would be highly unusual for someone who might be the focus of an FBI probe to ask whether he was under investigation and to be directly told by the FBI director that he was not.

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Tune into NBC Nightly News at 6:30 p.m. ET to see more of Holt’s exclusive interview with Trump.

The president also reiterated his claim that he had been planning to fire Comey even before he received Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s recommendation to do so.

“He’s a showboat, he’s grandstander, the FBI has been in turmoil,” Trump said of Comey in his wide-ranging interview with Holt. “You know that, I know that. Everybody knows that. You take a look at the FBI a year ago, it was in virtual turmoil, less than a year ago. It hasn’t recovered from that.”

Trump said he never tried to pressure Comey into dropping the FBI probe of the Trump campaign and insisted, “I want to find out if there was a problem in the election having to do with Russia.”

Asked by Holt if by firing Comey he was trying to send a “lay off” message to his successor, Trump said, “I’m not.”

“If Russia did anything, I want to know that,” he said.

But Trump also insisted there was no “collusion between me and my campaign and the Russians.”

“Also, the Russians did not affect the vote,” he said.

Holt’s interview with the president came as Washington was still reeling over Trump’s removal of Comey on Tuesday.

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SOURCE: CORKY SIEMASZKO 
NBC News