"Why won't you just explain whether or not there are recordings?': Reporter grills Spicer after he refused to say whether Trump is recording conversations

Hallie Jackson and Sean SpicerScreenshot/MSNBCHallie Jackson and Sean Spicer.

NBC News’ Hallie Jackson grilled White House press secretary Sean Spicer during Monday’s press briefing over the existence of audio recordings President Donald Trump may be keeping of his conversations with other officials.

And Spicer deflected repeatedly when pressed, echoing his line of answering from Friday’s press briefing, which followed Trump’s initial eyebrow-raising tweet that said ousted FBI Director “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

Here’s that exchange:

Jackson: “Why won’t you just explain whether or not there are recordings of the president’s conversations?”

Spicer: “The president has made it clear what his position is.”

Jackson: “That’s not my question. It’s why won’t you explain it.”

Spicer: “I understand that because that’s what the president’s position is.”

Jackson: “So given that you refuse to confirm or deny any of this, how is any senior official supposed to feel comfortable having a private conversation with the president?”

Spicer: “As I’ve said Hallie, the president has made it clear what his position is.”

Jackson: “Even with these Congressional lawmakers calling to see if they exist?”

Spicer: “Hallie, I’ve asked the … Hallie, I answered the question over and over again the same way.”

It’s unclear what Spicer meant by Trump having already made his position clear. On Friday, Spicer said he spoke to the president about the tweet and that Trump would have “nothing further to add to that.”

“The tweet speaks for itself,” Spicer said. “I’m moving on.”

Trump’s tweet seemed to reference his conversations with Comey in which the ousted FBI director reportedly assured Trump he was not under FBI investigation. One of those instances was a January dinner between the two. Comey has not made any public statements about whether he assured Trump he was not under investigation.

When Trump previously used scare quotes around a phrase in a tweet, such as he did when he claimed on Twitter without evidence that former President Barack Obama “wire-tapped” him in March, the president said phrases encased within those quotes should not be taken at literal face value. In that instance, he said wiretapping meant all forms of surveillance.

A “source close to Comey” told NBC News on Friday that the ousted FBI director “hopes there are tapes.”

“That would be perfect,” the source told NBC.

Additionally, a number of top Democrats have made requests for any such recordings.

Comey, whom Trump fired last week, announced in March that FBI, as a part of its counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, was looking into potential collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian government officials. That investigation was launched in late July.

Watch the exchange between Jackson and Spicer:

More from Allan Smith:

Good Q @HallieJackson: WH won’t deny Trump is secretly recording conversations — how are people supposed to feel comfortable talking to him? pic.twitter.com/FKOVbNay88
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) May 15, 2017

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