WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump suggested Friday that there may be “tapes” of his private conversations with former FBI Director James Comey, whom he fired earlier this week, in an apparent attempt to threaten Comey about “leaking to the press.”
Trump’s tweet: “James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
In his tweet, Trump appears to suggest that he may have recordings of his communications with Comey. It is unclear if such tapes exist, however.
The White House did not immediately respond to questions about whether Trump had in fact taped his conversations with Comey.
Trump’s tweet about Comey was likely a reaction to a New York Times report, published Thursday night, detailing a one-on-one dinner Trump had with Comey shortly after the inauguration. The report said that Comey has told associates that Trump twice asked Comey during their conversation to pledge his loyalty to him, something the FBI director declined to do.
Trump put the word tapes in quotation marks, indicating that perhaps there may be a record of some kind if not an actual audio or video recording.
He used a similar construct in two of his March 4 tweets accusing President Barack Obama, without any evidence, of wiretapping his campaign offices. Trump put the words “wires tapped” in quotation marks, which White House press secretary Sean Spicer later argued meant surveillance activities more broadly as opposed to physical wiretapping.
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Trump said on Thursday, in an interview with NBC News anchor Lester Holt, that he spoke three separate times with Comey about whether he was the subject of the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election — once over dinner and twice in phone calls.
Trump’s tweet drew immediate comparisons to President Richard Nixon’s practice of taping his private conversations in the Oval Office. Presidential historian Michael Beschloss tweeted, “Presidents are supposed to have stopped routinely taping visitors without their knowledge when Nixon’s taping system was revealed in 1973.”
Presidents are supposed to have stopped routinely taping visitors without their knowledge when Nixon’s taping system was revealed in 1973.