US President Donald Trump has contradicted a recent White House statement, saying he intended to fire James Comey "regardless" of what the Justice Department recommended.
"Look, he's a showboat, he's a grandstander, the FBI has been in turmoil... 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," Mr Trump said in an interview with NBC News at the White House.
But acting FBI director Andrew McCabe told US senators Mr Comey "enjoyed broad support" within the agency and that he holds Comey in the "absolute highest regard".
The timing of Mr Comey's termination has been under much speculation, and White House officials have been trying to justify it, saying Mr Comey lost his job because of his performance during the investigation of Hillary Clinton's emails.
They denied it had anything to do with the FBI investigation into possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign.
In the interview, Mr Trump said he asked Mr Comey if he was personally being investigated.
"I actually asked him, yes," Trump said. "I said, 'If it's possible, would you let me know am I under investigation?' He said, 'You are not under investigation.'
"I know that I'm not under investigation. Me. Personally," the President told NBC News on Thursday. "I'm not talking about campaigns. I'm not talking about anything else."
"I'm not under investigation," he repeated.
Mr Comey, days before Mr Trump fired him, told lawmakers he sought more resources for his agency's probe into possible collusion between Mr Trump's presidential campaign and Russia to sway the 2016 US election, a congressional source told Reuters.
In a farewell letter to staff seen by CNN, Mr Comey, who was appointed by Mr Trump's predecessor, Democratic President Barack Obama, said he had "long believed that a President can fire an FBI director for any reason, or for no reason at all".