Trump: ‘I did not make, and do not have’ Comey tapes

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Despite his tweet in the aftermath of James Comey's dismissal in May, President Donald Trump did not make and does not have tapes of his conversations with the former FBI director, he tweeted Thursday.

"With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are 'tapes' or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings," wrote Trump in a pair of tweets.

Trump appeared to leave open the possibility that recordings of their conversations exist, saying only that he did not create and is not in possession of any such tapes. At a press briefing Thursday, White House principal deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she was not aware of other recordings.

In May, three days after Comey's firing, Trump wrote: "James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"

Asked by ABC News' Jonathan Karl why Trump played "the game" of raising the matter and waiting over a month to reveal that he did not have tapes, Huckabee Sanders said, "I don't know that it was a game."

Trump previously declined to confirm or deny the existence of tapes, even as Comey shared details of his interactions with the president with associates and testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"I'll tell you about it over a short period of time. I'm not hinting at anything," said Trump at a joint press conference with the president of Romania on June 9, a day after Comey met with the panel. "You're going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer," Trump added.

The same day, a bipartisan group of leaders from the House Intelligence Committee submitted a request to White House counsel Don McGahn to inform the committee — which is conducting its own investigation of Russian election interference — by June 23 whether recordings exist.

The potential existence of recordings of Trump and Comey's conversations took on increasing importance as the pair offered contradicting claims about the nature of their discussions.

In his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey described Trump allegedly asking for the director's loyalty during a private dinner on Jan. 27.

"The president said, 'I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.' I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed," said Comey in a written statement submitted to the committee.

Two days later, Trump denied such an exchange.

"I hardly know the man. I'm not going to say I want you to pledge allegiance," said Trump at the June 9 press conference. "What would do that? Who would ask a man to pledge allegiance under oath" Think of that. I hardly know the man."

Comey additionally detailed, in the written statement, a Feb. 14 Oval Office meeting in which Trump allegedly discussed former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

"I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go," said Trump, according to Comey.

Asked by a reporter at a May 18 press conference whether he urged Comey "in any way, shape, or form to close or back down the investigation into Michael Flynn," the president offered a curt response.

"No. No. Next question," said Trump.

The possibility that tapes existed eventually led Comey to direct a friend to release information about his interactions with Trump to The New York Times. Comey explained the process during the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

"The president tweeted on Friday after I got fired that I better hope there's not tapes," said Comey. "I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night because it didn't dawn on me originally there might be corroboration, a tape. And my judgment was I needed to get that out into the public square."

Earlier in his testimony, he said he wished such recordings exist, saying he was "stunned by the conversation" about Flynn and was attempting to "remember every word he said."

"Lordy, I hope there are tapes," said Comey.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, still wants a formal response in writing from the White House regarding the committee's request for Trump's "tapes," despite the president's tweets this afternoon.

"We're going to need to go back to the White House to find out whether his tweets constitute an official response to the House Intelligence Committee," he told reporters Thursday afternoon.

Minutes later, in an official release from his office, Schiff said the White House "must respond in writing" to the committee "as to whether any tapes or recordings exist."

ABC News' Benjamin Siegel contributed to this report.

Original Article

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