The development will come as blow to White House efforts to dampen down interest in the Russian Federation investigation as Mr Trump jetted off to Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip as president.
"I have known Jim Comey since approximately 2002", he continued.
"I believe that's why the deputy attorney general went out and wrote his very, very strong letter", Trump said. As a federal prosecutor, he was a role model.
Rosenstein said he first learned of Trump's intent to remove Comey on May 8. In his remarks, Rosenstein shared that he was dismayed by Comey's press conference from last July in which he "usurped" the Department of Justice and revealed findings from the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has also come under scrutiny for meeting with Kislyak during last year's campaign, something he did not disclose during his confirmation hearings. "I believe it. I stand by it". However the White House said at midday that there would be no announcement Friday.
"I just fired the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation".
He says he asked career Justice Department lawyers to review the memo.
Mr Trump told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week that Mr Comey was a "nut job", according to the Times, citing notes taken at the meeting and read to the paper by a United States official. A Democratic representative described Rosenstein as "frustratingly cautious". At the same time, the timeline he provided makes clear that Rosenstein did not initiate the process in the final phase - as senators said after Thursday's briefing.
The statement challenges theories that Rosenstein was somehow put up to writing the memo to justify Trump's decision.
Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said: "I hope that former director Comey's testimony will help answer some of the questions that have arisen since director Comey was so suddenly dismissed by the president". "Notwithstanding my personal affection for Director Comey, I thought it was appropriate to seek a new leader".
Trump acknowledged in his interview with NBC that "the Russian Federation thing" was on his mind when he chose to fire Comey, leading to questions about whether he fired Comey to impede the investigation into his campaign's ties to Russian Federation. Reports surfaced soon after Comey was sacked that he had asked the Justice Department for additional resources for the probe, but Rosenstein on Friday pushed back against those claims. "Moreover, I consulted my staff and acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and none of them recalls such a request".
According to the U.S. daily, the quotes and other excerpts from the minutes was readout to its correspondent by a Trump administration official.
"This is a fight for the soul of our democracy", Rep. Elijah Cummings told reporters after the closed briefing. "We can not afford to lose this one".