- Win McNamee/Getty Images
White House press secretary Sean Spicer would neither confirm nor deny during Friday’s press briefing that President Donald Trump has recorded audio of his private White House conversations, including his January dinner with ousted FBI Director James Comey.
Spicer’s comments came as a response to Trump’s eye-opening tweet from earlier Friday, which appeared to serve as a threat to Comey.
“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Trump wrote.
The first series of questions Spicer faced in the briefing centered around the tweet.
“I’ve talked to the president” about that tweet, Spicer said. “The president has nothing further to add to that.”
“Why did he say that?” Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason said.
“As I mentioned, the president has nothing further to add to that,” Spicer said.
“Are there recording devices in the Oval Office or the residence?” Mason then asked.
“As I’ve said for the third time, there’s nothing further to add to that,” Spicer responded.
“Does he think it’s appropriate to threaten someone like Mr. Comey not to speak?” Mason asked.
Spicer said he didn’t the tweet was “a threat.”
“He’s simply stated a fact,” Spicer said. “The tweet speaks for itself. I’m moving on.”
Later, Spicer was asked by another reporter if Trump had a tape of his conversation with Comey in late January. Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt Thursday that Comey provided him during the dinner with an assurance that the president was not under investigation. Since late July, the FBI has been conducting a counterintelligence investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government officials.
Additionally, the New York Times reported Thursday that during that dinner, Trump asked Comey to pledge his loyalty. He declined to do so at least twice during the dinner, The Times reported, citing two people close to Comey who had knowledge of the conversation.
“I’m not aware of that,” Spicer said of a potential tape.
Earlier Friday, a “source close to Comey” told NBC the ousted FBI director “hopes there are tapes.”
“That would be perfect,” the source told NBC.
The top House Democrats on the Oversight and Judiciary Committees sent a letter to White House Counsel Donald McGahn to request copies of “all recordings in possession of the White House regarding this matter.”
Those Democrats, Reps. Elijah Cummings of Maryland and John Conyers of Michigan, also requested “all documents, memoranda, analyses, emails, and other communications relating to the President’s decision to dismiss Director Comey – a decision which the president declared yesterday he planned to make “regardless of [Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s] recommendation” – and all discussions with Director Comey.”