President Donald Trump said in a pair of Thursday tweets that he doesn’t have tapes of his conversations with fired FBI Director James Comey.
“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, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings,” Trump wrote in the tweets.
The controversy surrounding the tapes began shortly after Trump’s stunning ouster of Comey in early May. The president tweeted days later that Comey had “better hope that there are no ‘tapes'” of their conversations “before he starts leaking to the press.”
That tweet in turn led Comey to do just that. He instructed a good friend, a Columbia University law professor, to leak information on memos he wrote of his conversations with the president to the media, Comey said in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this month. Comey said he made the move because he felt the investigation may have reached a point at which a special counsel needed to be appointed. Special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein soon after to oversee the Russia investigation.
Comey also said in his testimony that he hoped Trump would produce the tapes if he had them.
During a press conference alongside Romanian President Klaus Iohannis earlier this month, Trump said on three occasions that the media would soon know about whether tapes existed.
“Well, I’ll tell you about that maybe sometime in the very near future,” he said, later adding that he was “not hinting anything” about whether there were any tape-recorded conversations.
“I will tell you about it over a fairly short period of time,” he said. “You’re going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer.”
The end of that sentence seemed to suggest that tapes did not exist.
In recent days, the White House told reporters that an answer on the tapes would come this week. Trump’s admission coincided with a deadline for a request from the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The committee sent a letter to White House Counsel Donald McGahn on June 9 requesting information on any possible tapes and for copies to be turned over if they did exist by June 23, which is Friday.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for further comment from Business Insider.
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