Published: Sun, May 14, 2017
USA | By Kelli Rowe

Trump's Warning to Comey Could Chill White House Conversations

It also escalated a potentially damaging standoff between a fuming, undisciplined president and the unorthodox lawman he dismissed three days earlier.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer didn't comment when asked whether Trump recorded Comey or if recording equipment exists in the Oval Office.

On Thursday, Trump told NBC News the Russian Federation investigation was on his mind when he made the decision to fire Comey, even before he asked Justice Department officials to write a memo justifying Comey's ouster. John Conyers Jr. and Elijah Cummings.

Two House Democrats on Friday sent a letter to White House counsel Donald McGahn, seeking the release of any tapes or other communications between Trump and Comey. I won't talk about that.

"Even that is possible", Trump said. Was he trying to intimidate Comey?

In the NBC interview Trump said Comey had assured him he wasn't personally being investigated in connection with any collusion between his associates and Russian agents. Comey has not explicitly denied the account.

Clapper went on MSNBC today to first clarify that the FBI is in the unique position of straddling intelligence and law enforcement, and stressed that he always deferred to the FBI director on "whether, when and what to tell me about a counterintelligence investigation when there was the possibility there that this could devolve into some sort of a criminal investigation".

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On Friday, a person close to the former director recounted a different version. "You know this should be an uproar". Details of the dinner were first reported by The New York Times.

Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary under President George W. Bush, said he didn't make much of Trump's tweets about taping Comey. The party members have called for a special counsel to investigate the Russian Federation issue, and the White House, in turn, has said that a special prosecutor in the case is not required. They also commented only condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

Trump began his day on Friday with a series of inflammatory Twitter posts, including a barely veiled threat against Comey, an assertion that it's "not possible" for his spokespeople to accurately represent him, and a suggestion he may end the White House's practice of briefing reporters on most weekdays.

Trump was widely known to record some phone conversations at his office in Trump Tower during his business career, sometimes remarking to aides after a call as to whether or not he had taped it.

"As I've said for the third time, I have nothing more to add on that", Spicer said. In Florida, where the president frequently spends weekends, both parties must consent to recording.

In addition to the Friday morning tweet barrage, Trump called Comey, who was leading the FBI's Russian Federation probe, a "showboat" and "grandstander" in the NBC interview, and contradicted the timeline of the firing outlined by his aides and Vice President Michael Pence.

The face-to-face meeting between the president and the director raised other concerns.

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Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper said Friday that Comey was uneasy about attending the dinner due to the "appearance of compromising the independence of the Federal Bureau of Investigation which is a hallowed tenet in our system".

Then, asked to answer a yes or no question about whether Trump records his official conversations, Spicer again refused to say.

Spicer said Trump's Twitter message wasn't meant to intimidate Comey.

Senate intelligence committee Chairman Richard Burr said he doesn't think the FBI's Trump-Russia investigation was the reason for the firing.

Cornyn has in recent weeks become more of an outward defender of Trump.

White House officials said Trump is considering almost a dozen candidates to replace Comey, including Texas Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate leader and a former state attorney general. NY state judge Michael Garcia, acting FBI Director James McCabe, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn and the former head of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, Alice Fisher, will be interviewed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy Rod Rosenstein.

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