Trump allegedly said he faced "great pressure" because of Russia
US President Donald Trump told Russian diplomats firing "nut job" FBI director James Comey relieved "great pressure", reports The New York Times.
The paper said the comments came from the White House's official written account of the Oval Office meeting.
One official had read quotations to the Times and another had confirmed the broad outlines of the discussion, the paper said.
The report quotes Mr Trump calling ousted FBI director James Comey "crazy" and "a real nut job".
It says the president then told Russia's foreign minister and ambassador that he "faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off".
Mr Trump met with the Russians on May 10th, the day after Mr Comey was fired.
The developments were a blow to White House efforts to dampen down interest in the Russia investigation as Mr Trump and his staff boarded Air Force One for Saudi Arabia, the first stop on his first foreign trip as president.
In another development, The Washington Post is reporting that a current senior White House adviser is under scrutiny as part of an investigation into possible co-ordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The Post says the revelation comes as the investigation appears to be entering a more open and active phase, with investigators conducting interviews and using a grand jury to issue subpoenas.
Administration officials who have acknowledged contacts with Russian officials include Mr Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
The president has insisted there was no collusion between himself and Russia.
He spoke to the media for the first time since a series of controversies enveloped the White House earlier this week.
In a news conference with President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, Mr Trump was asked if he ever asked the then FBI director James Comey to drop the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
He simply responded: "No. No. Next question."
Mr Trump said he respected the decision to appoint a special counsel, but added: "The entire thing has been a witch hunt.
"There's been no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign, but I can always speak for myself, and the Russians. Zero. I think it divides the country."
On Wednesday, the US Justice Department - facing mounting pressure from Democrats and even some Republicans - appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the investigation into alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia.