The White House on Thursday struggled to explain the conflicting information officials have provided to explain President Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Trump in an interview with NBC News said that he had already decided to relieve Comey before receiving a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that established the predicate for his dismissal.

But the president's explanation is inconsistent with what White House communications staff has been telling reporters since Tuesday evening, when Trump informed Comey of his decision.

"I hadn't had a chance to have the conversation with the president," White House deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders insisted, defending her past contradictory statements. "I hadn't asked that question directly…I've since had the conversation with him and he laid it out very clearly."

Sanders also found herself on defense over claims she made to the White House press corps earlier in the week that FBI rank and file agents supported Comey's removal.

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, asked Thursday during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing whether Comey's dismissal was well received inside the bureau, said flatly that that was not the case.

The former director "enjoyed broad support and still does," McCabe said.

Sanders stood by her claims, citing anonymous contact with unnamed FBI employees (how many, she didn't say) over text and email.

"We may have to agree to disagree," she said, when asked about McCabe's comments. "I've certainly heard from a large numert of individuals, and that's just myself, and I don't even know that many people in the FBI."

"We're not going to get into a numbers game," she added later. "I spoke to a large number of people at the FBI."

The White House communications team wasn't alone referring to Rosenstein's memo as the catalyst for Trump's decision to fire Comey.

Vice President Mike Pence said so, as did other officials, suggesting either confusion among Trump's top advisors or a deliberate attempt to change the story behind Trump's action in a bid to reduce the criticism being directed at the administration.

Sanders responded by saying that reporters were purposely trying to make the president look bad, and tried to shift attention to the Democrats.

They have long felt Comey should be fired for mishandling the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server but are concerned that Trump dismissed him to cover up the FBI investigation into Russian meddling in 2016 and possible Oval Office ties.

"Nobody was in the dark," Sanders said to the White House press corps. "You want to create this false narrative."

"If you want to talk about people in the dark," she added, "the people that are in the dark today are the Democrats. They want to come and talk about Comey and how great he was?"

"It's kind of sad," Sanders continued. "The Democrats want to play partisan games and that's the thing that's being left out of all of your process stories."