Accessibility links

Trump Warns Fired FBI Chief About 'Leaking' To Press


WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump has issued a comment on Twitter apparently warning former FBI Director James Comey against "leaking to the press," suggesting there might be "tapes" of their private conversations.

Trump's comments came in a series of Twitter posts early on May 12 in which he also suggested he might cancel daily White House press briefings.

Trump fired Comey on May 9, and later in an NBC News interview called him "a showboat" and a "grandstander" and stating that the FBI was in "turmoil."

U.S. media, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, have reported differing accounts of meetings between Trump and Comey before his firing.

The FBI and at least two congressional committees are probing allegations of Russian interference into the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible collusion by the Trump campaign team.

Trump has said that Comey on three occasions -- during one meeting and two phone calls -- told him he was not personally the subject of an investigation.

Meanwhile, U.S. media, citing unnamed FBI sources, reported that Trump pressured Comey to pledge his personal loyalty to the U.S. president, which the reports say Comey refused to do.

During a press briefing, White House spokesman Sean Spicer denied that Trump had asked for Comey's personal loyalty and said the only loyalty required was to the country.

Trump issued a comment on Twitter in apparent response to the news leaks, which CNN, The Washington Times, The New York Post, The Washington Post, and other media, characterized as a "threat" to Comey.

"James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!" he wrote.

Representative Gerry Connolly (Democrat-Virginia) accused Trump of witness intimidation after the Comey tweet.

"First obstruction of an investigation. Now witness intimidation from the Highest Office. A sad moment for even this White House. Unhinged?" he tweeted.

Representative Adam Schiff (Democrat-California), a vocal critic of Trump, said in a tweet said that the president should release any tapes that might exist.

"Mr. President, if there are 'tapes' relevant to the Comey firing, it's because you made them and they should be provided to Congress," Schiff wrote.

The White House said Trump declined to comment further on the suggestion of recordings of the conversations, and Spicer denied that the tweet was a threat to Comey.

Cancel Press Briefings?

Trump also issued a tweet about White House press briefings, suggesting he might end the daily event that has been accused by some of providing misleading information.

Brian Fallon, a former Justice Department spokesman who also served as press secretary to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, told Politico that the briefings had "become a forum for exposing the absurdity and falseness of claims made by the president."

Trump wrote on Twitter that "As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!"

"Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future 'press briefings' and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???" he added.

The president of the White House Correspondents Association, Reuters reporter Jeff Mason, told MSNBC that his association would object to any move to cancel the press briefings.

"Having regular press briefings is key to giving journalists the ability to do their jobs," Mason said. "It is also key to allowing there to be transparency at the highest levels of government, whether that's the president of the United States or the people who work for him."

In a separate development, the Associated Press is reporting that Trump's lawyers have released a letter saying a review of his tax returns over the past 10 years did not show "any income of any type from Russian sources," with two major exceptions.

The exceptions listed are income from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant that Trump organized in Moscow and a property sold to a Russian billionaire in 2008 for $95 million.

Trump has come under pressure to release his tax returns amid questions about his connections to Russian government or business officials.

With reporting by AP, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Washington Times, CNN, BBC, Politico, and The Hill
XS
SM
MD
LG