President Donald Trump said he doesn’t have recordings of his conversations with then-FBI Director James Comey, capping weeks of speculation about whether such tapes exist. “With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are ‘tapes’ or recordings of my conversations with James Comey,” Trump said Thursday in a pair of statements on Twitter, “but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.” Trump himself raised the question of whether he was taping his Oval Office conversations when, days after firing Comey on May 9, he blasted out a series of tweets suggesting the existence of tapes as a way to try to deter the ousted FBI chief from talking to reporters.
“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Trump wrote. He concluded with a tweet calling the investigation into Russian interference in the election and his campaign’s possible involvement a “witch hunt,” asking, “when does it end?” Trump raised the possibility of tapes in a strategic fashion to ensure that Comey told the truth, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The House Intelligence Committee investigating Russian meddling in the presidential election has sought information on whether the tapes exist. The panel sent a letter on June 9 to White House Counsel Don McGahn requesting information on whether recordings of Comey’s conversations with Trump exist and, if they do, for copies to be turned over by Friday. Representative Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, warned the White House Thursday that “time is running out” to meet the Friday deadline. The president has promised to answer the question soon. He ended a news conference on June 9 with a cliff-hanger about the tapes: “I’ll tell you about that over a very short period of time.” He said in the same news conference that reporters would be disappointed with his answer — suggesting that there are no tapes.