US President Donald Trump told Russian officials that firing FBI director James Comey eased “great pressure” on him, US media report.
Citing a document summarising the meeting in the Oval Office last week, the New York Times said Mr Trump called Mr Comey a “real nut job”.
Mr Comey had been running an inquiry into possible collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s election campaign.
The White House has not disputed the language used.
The report was published just as Mr Trump took off on a flight to the Middle East for the first leg of his first foreign tour as president.
In another development, the Washington Post reported that a current White House official is a “significant person of interest” in the investigation into alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
It quoted unnamed sources familiar with the investigation as saying it was someone “close to the president” but they would not identify them further. The White House has denied there was collusion between the campaign and any “foreign entity”.