Spicer declines to answer whether Pres. Trump records Oval Office conversations

Posted May 19, 2017

Sanders attributed the disconnect in the week's explanations to the fact that she had not directly asked Trump when he'd made the decision to fire Comey until shortly before Thursday's press briefing.

But it quickly became clear that the president had been stewing for days over the Russian Federation investigation and Comey's refusal to defend him in appearances before lawmakers. Trump said he would not talk about the existence of any tapes.

CNN said Comey is "not anxious about any tapes" Trump may have, citing an unnamed source familiar with the matter.

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner, told MSNBC that Congress would want to look at the tapes, if they exist.

Trump made the remarks to reporters prior to speaking to about 50,000 people at Liberty University in Lynchburg, where he did not mention Comey or the controversy his dismissal on Tuesday caused.

Spicer also said Trump's tweet this morning was not meant as a threat to Comey not to speak to the media.

In this Wednesday, May 3, 2017, photo, then-FBI Director James Comey testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

Schmidt wrote: "Instead, Mr. Comey has recounted to others, he told Mr. Trump that he would always be honest with him, but that he was not "reliable" in the conventional political sense". Trump's comments came after acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe directly contradicted the White House's claims that the "rank and file" agents had lost faith in Comey. The New York Times said Comey has told associates he declined to make a pledge of loyalty to Trump when the president requested it as the pair had dinner at the White House just seven days after his inauguration.

Trump says Comey had told him three times he was not under investigation in the Russian Federation probe. His dismissal of a special prosecutor, Archibald Cox, who subpoenaed the White House for the president's tapes marked the beginning of the end of his presidency.

Comey has not confirmed Trump's account.

Mr Trump also cited comments from James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, at a Senate hearing earlier this week that he was not aware of any evidence demonstrating collusion between Trump's campaign and Russian Federation.

Comey has not publicly discussed any conversations he has had with Trump. Clapper says Comey was concerned about the "optics" of that because it might appear that he or the Federal Bureau of Investigation was not working independently of the White House.

Describing himself as a "very active president", Trump said it was becoming very hard for his surrogates to explain things with ideal accuracy to reporters at the news conferences.

He also floated the idea of cancelling the daily press briefings from the White House in favor of written statements "for the sake of accuracy". The initial reason given in Comey's termination letter was that Trump was acting on the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. And when Sally Yates, then serving as acting attorney general, told the White House that Flynn had lied when he denied discussing US sanctions with Kislyak, and thus could be vulnerable to Russian blackmail, Trump waited 18 days to fire him. "I thought that this would be a very popular thing, that I did, when I terminated Comey, because all of the Democrats couldn't stand him", Trump said. It seems likely that if Trump had dismissed him with the respect and decorum due a person of his stature, Comey would have exited the stage quietly and let his successor deal with Russia, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump.

Spicer said the Justice Department would soon begin to interview replacements for Comey. In February - angered by leaks coming out of his administration - Trump accused journalists at a fiery news conference of being dishonest in their reporting of him and blasting reports of Russian interference as "fake news".