Hint­ing at se­cret tapes, Trump warns ousted FBI di­rec­tor


WASH­ING­TON — Rag­ing against a po­lit­i­cal firestorm, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Fri­day shot a sharp warn­ing at his ousted FBI di­rec­tor about pos­si­ble “tapes” of their dis­puted pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions, rais­ing the provoca­tive pos­si­bil­ity that record­ing de­vices have been in­stalled in the White House.

Trump’s top spokesper­son re­fused to comment on whether lis­ten­ing de­vices are ac­tive in the Oval Of­fice or else­where, a non-de­nial that re­called the se­cretly taped con­ver­sa­tions and tele­phone calls that ul­ti­mately led to pres­i­dent Richard Nixon’s down­fall in the Water­gate scan­dal. Trump’s warn­ing to fired FBI di­rec­tor James Comey prompted new ac­cu­sa­tions of in­ter­fer­ence in an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­le­ga­tions of col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Rus­sia and the Trump pres­i­den­tial cam­paign last year.

It also es­ca­lated a po­ten­tially dam­ag­ing stand­off be­tween a fum­ing, undis­ci­plined pres­i­dent and the un­ortho­dox law­man he dis­missed three days ear­lier. Not to men­tion Congress, which has its own in­ves­ti­ga­tions un­der­way.

Democrats quickly seized on the dis­pute, de­mand­ing the White House turn over any tapes that might ex­ist of the pres­i­dent’s con­ver­sa­tions with Comey.

Trump’s be­hav­iour raises “the spec­tre of pos­si­ble in­tim­i­da­tion and ob­struc­tion of jus­tice,” wrote Reps. John Cony­ers and Eli­jah Cum­mings, rank­ing Democrats on the House Ju­di­ciary and Over­sight com­mit­tees, in a let­ter to White House coun­sel Don McGahn. “The pres­i­dent’s ac­tions also risk un­der­min­ing the on­go­ing crim­i­nal and counter-in­tel­li­gence in­ves­ti­ga­tions and the in­de­pen­dence of fed­eral law en­force­ment agen­cies.”

In an in­ter­view with Fox News Fri­day, Trump de­clined to comment on whether he has lis­ten­ing de­vices in the White House. “Well that I can’t talk about. I won’t talk about that. All I want is for Comey to be hon­est. And I hope he will be.”

White House of­fi­cials said Trump is con­sid­er­ing nearly a dozen can­di­dates to re­place Comey.

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