US President Donald Trump has refuted the claims made by a media report that he had asked sacked FBI Director James Comey to quash the agency's investigation into ties between his former national security adviser Mike Flynn and Russia.
"No," he said when he was asked about the report during a White House news conference on Thursday. According to a report published in the New York Times on Tuesday, Trump asked Comey to end the investigation against Flynn.
"I hope you can let this go," the US president was quoted as telling Comey in the report. Comey was abruptly fired by Trump at a time when he was leading an investigation into whether the latter's election campaign had links with Russia during the US presidential polls last year.
The request was made by Trump after Flynn resigned as the national security advisor following surfacing of reports that he had maintained links with the Russians.
When further asked whether he urged Comey in any way to back down the investigation, Trump interrupted the reporter and proceeded to the next question. Defending his decision to sack Comey, he said the former FBI chief was "very unpopular" among many people.
"I actually thought when I made that decision, that it would be a bipartisan decision. Because you look at all of the people on the Democratic side, not only the Republican side, that were saying such terrible things about director Comey, he said.
"Then he had the very poor performance on Wednesday. That was a poor, poor performance. That's why the Deputy Attorney General went out and wrote his very, very strong letter," Trump said while referring to Comey's testimony before lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
"And then on top of that, after the Wednesday performance by director Comey, you had a person come and have to readjust the record, which many people have never seen before, because there were misstatements made," he noted.