WASHINGTON — The White House on Friday refused to say whether President Trump recorded conversations with fired FBI Director James Comey or whether he regularly records exchanges in the Oval Office or his residence.
“I’ve talked to the president. The president has nothing further to add on that,” press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters his daily briefing.
“Are there recording devices in the Oval Office or the presidential residence?” a reporter asked. “There is nothing further to add on that,” Spicer said.
Asked whether anyone in the White House had a recording of a January dinner between Trump and Comey, Spicer said he was “not aware of that.”
Former President Richard Nixon notoriously recorded conversations with senior aides and advisers in the Oval Office. The existence of the tapes became public during the Watergate scandal that led Nixon to resign.
The peculiar exchanges with Spicer came after an early-morning tweet in which Trump seemed to threaten the ousted investigator, saying: “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
Spicer disputed that Trump was looking to intimidate Comey: “That’s not a threat. He simply stated a fact. The tweet speaks for itself,” Spicer said. “I’m moving on.”
Trump said in an interview with NBC News on Thursday that Comey told him once at dinner and twice over the telephone that he wasn’t under investigation. A New York Times story published Thursday evening reported that Trump had asked Comey at a private January dinner to pledge loyalty to the new president. Comey reportedly declined and said that he would be “honest” with the president.
Asked whether that description was accurate, Spicer replied, “No.”
“The president wants loyalty to this country and to the rule of law,” the spokesman added.