Spicer Declines To Say Whether There Are Tapes Of Conversations Between Trump, Comey

Spicer: 'The President Has Nothing Further To Add On That'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer declined to say Friday whether President Donald Trump taped conversations he had with fired FBI Director James Comey.

Trump took to Twitter early Friday morning, saying “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press.”

When asked if Trump recorded his conversations with Comey, Spicer said only that “the president has nothing further to add on that.”

Spicer gave his first briefing to reporters Friday since Trump fired Comey. Spicer, who has been at the Pentagon fulfilling his Naval Reserve duty, was called back to the White House, CBS New reported.

The president also suggested on Twitter that maybe it would be best to “cancel” White House press briefings.

He tweeted that his schedule as a “very active president with lots of things happening” makes it “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 said.

When asked if the president would cancel press briefings, Spicer said Trump was “dismayed” by “an attempt to parse every little word and make it more of a game of ‘gotcha’ as opposed to really figure out what the policies are, why something’s being pursued or what the update is.”

“I think that’s where there’s a lot of dismay and I don’t think it’s something that just alone the president feels,” Spicer said.

A law enforcement official told CBS News that Comey was invited to the White House back in January for a private dinner with the president, during which Trump repeatedly asked for his loyalty.

Comey declined, instead promising only to be honest with Trump, according to the source. Spicer on Friday was asked if it was true.

“No,” he said.

Former Director of Intelligence James Clapper said he spoke with Comey the day of the dinner.

“He mentioned he had been invited to the White House to have dinner with the president and that he was uneasy, because of that — because compromising even the optics, the appearance of independence, not only of him but of the FBI,” Clapper said.

Trump also says Comey assured him three times that he was not under investigation, including at the dinner.

“We had a very nice dinner. And at that time, he told me you are not under investigation,” the president said.

An individual familiar with Comey’s thinking tells CBS News the former FBI director is not worried about the possible existence of any tapes from the meeting.

Trump fired Comey on Tuesday. The White House said the firing was based on “clear recommendations” by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

But Trump told NBC News Thursday that he had made up his mind to dismiss Comey before he met Monday with Sessions and Rosenstein.

“He made a recommendation, he’s highly respected, very good guy, very smart guy, the Democrats like him, the Republicans like him, he made a recommendation but regardless of recommendation I was going to fire Comey,” he said

Democrats allege the firing of the FBI director was an attempt to cripple the probe into alleged Russian meddling with the 2016 election.

The White House insists Comey had lost the confidence of the president and many others with his controversial handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe.

“Again, the story that there was collusion between the Russians & Trump campaign was fabricated by Dems as an excuse for losing the election,” Trump said on Twitter Friday.

But acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Comey enjoyed “broad support.”

When asked to explain Trump’s comments during a press briefing Thursday, Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “Those words don’t leave a lot of room for interpretation so I think it’s pretty clear what he meant.”

Appearing on “CBS This Morning,” CBS News contributor Bob Schieffer said the president needs to find another way to reassure the American people about questions on Russia.

“He’s got to lay it all out and find ways not just to be tweeting every morning that the news is being made up by the media,” he said. “He’s got to show them some proof, some reason to believe these things are not true.”

Meanwhile, a group of 20 attorneys general, all Democrats, is calling for the appointment of an independent special counsel to continue the investigation into Russian interference in last year’s presidential election.

The group said in a Thursday letter to Rosenstein that only the appointment of an independent special counsel “with full powers and resources” can begin to restore public confidence.

Included in signing the letter was New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Also included were the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont and Washington.

In the meantime, the White House is giving details about the president’s visit abroad, which begins next Friday. Trump will be visiting Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican.

“This trip is truly historic. No president has ever visited the homelands and holy sites of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths all on one trip,” National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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