Bi­par­ti­san calls for Trump to con­firm or deny tap­ing sys­tem.

Schumer nudges pres­i­dent to testify be­fore Congress

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY ALEX SWOYER

Pres­i­dent Trump faced in­creas­ing pres­sure on Sun­day from both sides of the aisle to con­firm whether or not he has tapes of his pri­vate con­ver­sa­tion with ousted FBI Di­rec­tor James B. Comey, and, if so, to turn them over to the spe­cial coun­sel in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether or not there was col­lu­sion be­tween the Trump cam­paign and Rus­sia.

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Demo­crat, sug­gested Mr. Trump could clear the cloud over his pres­i­dency by ei­ther turn­ing over the tapes or by tes­ti­fy­ing be­fore the Se­nate, which he in­vited the pres­i­dent to do dur­ing an ap­pear­ance on “Face the Na­tion” on CBS af­ter Mr. Trump said on Fri­day he’s will­ing to go un­der oath.

But if there are no tapes, Mr. Trump should make that known so there is “no more game play­ing,” Mr. Schumer said.

“When it comes to the tapes and it comes to tes­ti­fy­ing, he ought to say what he means,” said Mr. Schumer. “The pres­i­dent seems to be tak­ing it al­most a lit­tle bit lightly. It’s al­most like the tax re­turns.”

Sen. Su­san M. Collins, Maine Repub­li­can, also wants the pres­i­dent to step up and ad­dress the record­ings, say­ing that if they do ex­ist, he should vol­un­tar­ily turn them over to the spe­cial coun­sel.

She said she didn’t think a sub­poena for the tapes was nec­es­sary, but if one were to be is­sued, it would come from the spe­cial coun­sel.

Mr. Trump hinted on May 12 he had record­ings of his pri­vate con­ver­sa­tion on Twit­ter.

“James Comey bet­ter hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our con­ver­sa­tions be­fore he starts leak­ing to the press!” said Mr. Trump in a tweet.

The pres­i­dent’s am­bigu­ous tweet came af­ter The New York Times re­ported on May 11 that Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey for his loy­alty dur­ing a pri­vate din­ner on Jan. 27.

Mr. Comey con­firmed last week dur­ing his tes­ti­mony be­fore the Se­nate in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee that the pres­i­dent asked for his loy­alty dur­ing the con­ver­sa­tion and also di­rected him to let the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into former Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser Michael Flynn go.

But nearly one month af­ter Mr. Trump’s tweet, the pres­i­dent re­fused to con­firm whether or not the tapes ac­tu­ally ex­ist.

“I’ll tell you about that maybe some­time in the near fu­ture,” Mr. Trump said dur­ing a press con­fer­ence on Fri­day.

Later on Fri­day, the House in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee asked the White House to turn over any record­ings that may ex­ist by June 23.

“This is an is­sue the pres­i­dent should have cleared up in his press con­fer­ence,” Ms. Collins told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sun­day.

But Sen. James Lank­ford, Ok­la­homa Repub­li­can, told “Face the Na­tion” he doubts they ex­ist.

“I hope there are record­ings,” said Mr. Lank­ford. “But I doubt that they’re re­ally there.”

Mark Zaid, an at­tor­ney in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., said it’s likely Mr. Trump will have to con­firm or deny the ex­is­tence of the tapes ei­ther vol­un­tar­ily or by be­ing com­pelled.

“If they ex­ist, this is po­ten­tially shades of Nixon’s Water­gate, and the harm to the cred­i­bil­ity of ei­ther Pres­i­dent Trump or former FBI Di­rec­tor Comey, de­pend­ing on whose story any tapes sup­port, is likely to be un­re­cov­er­able,” said Mr. Zaid.

The big­ger ques­tion, though, is whether or not Mr. Trump will ac­cept Mr. Schumer’s in­vi­ta­tion and testify be­fore Congress, mak­ing him the first pres­i­dent to do so since Ger­ald Ford, Mr. Zaid said.

“The dy­namic the­ater of such an event will prob­a­bly be one of the most dra­matic sto­ries of the 21st cen­tury and pos­si­bly could bring down a pres­i­dency,” he said.

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Demo­crat, wants Pres­i­dent Trump to testify to the ex­is­tence of record­ings of him talk­ing to fired FBI Di­rec­tor James B. Comey.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TOGRAPHS

Sen. Su­san M. Collins, Maine Repub­li­can, said if Pres­i­dent Trump’s al­leged record­ings of con­ver­sa­tions be­tween him­self and Mr. Comey do in fact ex­ist, he should re­lease them.

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