On the day Senate Republicans released their until now secret health care bill, President Donald Trump used Twitter to answer a question hanging over his embattled presidency: He does not have recordings of his conversations with former FBI Director James B. Comey.
The president and his top aides had promised to provide information before week’s end about whether or not he had, as he alluded to in a May 12 tweet, “tapes” of his private talks with Comey. His Twitter disclosure also came one day before a House Intelligence Committee deadline for the White House to hand over any such recordings or information.
“I have no idea … whether there are ‘tapes’ or recordings of my conversations with James Comey,” Trump said in a message that spanned two midday tweets, “but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.”
With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2017
...whether there are "tapes" or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2017
The Wall Street Journal reported this month, via a Freedom of Information Act request, that the Secret Service says it does not have such recordings either.
A cloud over whether the president recorded an April conversation with Comey in the Oval Office that took place after Trump asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions, senior adviser/son-in-law Jared Kushner and others to leave has hung over the White House since Trump fired off the tweet three days after terminating Comey.
“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Trump wrote in the May 12 tweet.
James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
That message immediately conjured up thoughts of former President Richard Nixon, who resigned during the Watergate scandal and recorded conversations that helped lead to his decision to step down.
It also helped spur Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to bring in another former FBI director, Robert S. Mueller III, as a special counsel to investigate Russian election meddling — and, reportedly, whether Trump obstructed justice by firing Comey and leaning on him and other senior officials in regards to the Russia probe.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, principal deputy White House press secretary, said she had nothing to add about Trump’s tweets, saying the social media post is “clear.”
The president does not regret the May 12 tweet about possible recordings, Sanders said.
Rema Rahman contributed to this report.