President Donald Trump said Thursday he does not have recordings of his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey, ending weeks of speculation about whether he taped their talks.
“I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings,” Trump tweeted.
The president, however, raised the possibility that a third party could have recorded his conversations with the ousted FBI director.
“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,” he tweeted.
According to The Hill:
Trump first suggested that he may have recorded his White House conversation with Comey and others days after he fired him as FBI director.
“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Trump wrote at the time.
The stunning suggestion set off a chain of events — including Comey’s decision to leak accounts of his conversations with Trump — that resulted in a special counsel investigation that could threaten his presidency.
White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday refused to explain why the president made his suggestion about the existence of “tapes.” She also said she didn’t think Trump intended to threaten his ousted FBI chief.
“Not that I’m aware of. I don’t think so,” Sanders said when asked if Trump meant to threaten Comey.
The spokeswoman said she’s not “aware” that Trump believes he is being surveilled in the Oval Office.
“The president’s statement via Twitter today is extremely clear,” she told reporters during an off-camera briefing at the White House. “I don’t have anything to add beyond the statement itself.”
Asked whether tapes of other Oval Office conversations exist, Sanders said, “Not that I’m aware of.”
Since the initial tweet, Trump and his staff had evaded questions on whether they secretly recorded the president’s private conversations with Comey.
The existence of such tapes would have been explosive. The discovery of a secret recording system in the White House under then-President Richard Nixon helped trigger his resignation amid the Watergate scandal.
No president since is known to have recorded conversations in the Oval Office.
During his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey said he hoped the tapes existed because they would vindicate his account of his interactions with Trump — and the events that led to his firing.
“Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” Comey said.
But Trump indicated the tapes might not exist during a press conference earlier this month, telling reporters, “you will be very disappointed when you hear the answer.”