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.