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.
The president also 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."
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. Several legal experts told NBC News the president's action was improper.
More from NBC News:
Fact Checking Donald Trump's Interview With NBC's Lester Holt
Current, Former FBI Officials Dispute Trump Account of Comey Meeting
Experts: Trump's Alleged Conversations With Comey Improper
The president 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."
Holt asked Trump if he was "angry with Mr. Comey because of his Russia investigation."
"I just want somebody that's competent," Trump responded. "I am a big fan of the FBI, I love the FBI."
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."
"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."