Trump had considered firing Comey for months, White House principal deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday, adding that "there was no request" by Trump for the DOJ to conduct the review the president ultimately cited in his decision to fire Comey.
Sanders said Rosenstein "absolutely" decided to review Comey's performance on his own, and was asked by Trump to put his recommendation in writing in a Monday meeting with the president and Sessions, after the top law enforcement officials expressed their "concerns" about Comey's leadership of the FBI.
Asked to clarify Feinstein's comments, spokesman Tom Mentzer said the senator was not challenging the White House's version of events.
"The point she was making is that the president told her the FBI was a mess, that the DAG recommended firing Comey and he was going to do so," he said in an email. "She was not trying to make the point that there was some directive. She doesn't have a transcript of the conversation, and frankly I think like most people was taken aback by the news and was more focused on the why."
Feinstein was one of several congressional leaders Trump informed of his plans to fire Comey -- a decision that reverberated around Washington and Capitol hill Wednesday.
The sudden move prompted Democrats to renew calls for Rosenstein to appoint a special prosecutor to oversee the FBI's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Republicans and the administration criticized Democrats for objecting to Trump's decision, given their earlier criticisms of Comey's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server and handling of classified information.