WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Thursday to deny the existence of audio recordings between he and ousted former FBI director James Comey.
“With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information,” Trump tweeted he has “no idea” whether or not “tapes” or recordings of the two men’s conversations exist, but said he “did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.”
The clarification was in follow up to a tweet the president sent out several weeks ago after Comey went public with claims that he was pressured by Trump to pull back on the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s dealings with a Russian diplomat.
“Better hope that there are no `tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press,” Trump tweeted the day after Comey’s claim.
Comey responded by saying that if tapes do exist he’s certain they would back up his version of events. “Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” Comey declared while testifying before the House intelligence committee.
Since then, the president has played coy as to whether or not the illusive tapes actually exist.
Two weeks ago during a press conference in the White House Rose Garden, Trump teased the press by saying that they’d get their answer “maybe sometime in the very near future.”
“You are going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer,” he added.
White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said Wednesday that an answer would be provided this week, presumably by the Friday deadline set by the House intelligence committee for turning over any tapes.
The House intelligence committee assigned to look into whether Russia played any role in interfering with the 2016 presidential election asked White House counsel Don McGahn to clarify the existence of the tapes by Friday. The president’s statement on Thursday seems to have done just that.
Per the Presidential Records Act, a law passed in response to the controversy surrounding Watergate, recordings made by presidents belong to the people and must be preserved. Destruction of the Comey tapes, if they ever existed, would be a violation of federal law.