By JONATHAN LEMIRE
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Thursday on Twitter that he “did not make” and doesn’t have any recordings of his private conversations with ousted former FBI Director James Comey.
“With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information,” Trump said he has “no idea” whether there are “tapes” or recordings of the two men’s conversations. But he declares he “did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.”
The tweets are the latest chapter in a high-stakes guessing game after Trump hinted that he might have recordings of his private conversations with Comey at the White House and over the phone.
The tale of mystery began last month, just days after Trump fired Comey, who was then leading an investigation into contacts before and after the election between the president’s campaign and Russian officials.
The absence of recordings almost certainly elevates in significance to investigators the notes made by Comey right after his conversations with Comey.
A New York Times report cited two unnamed Comey associates who recounted his version of a January dinner with the president in which Trump asked for a pledge of loyalty. Comey declined, instead offering to be “honest.” When Trump then pressed for “honest loyalty,” Comey told him, “You will have that,” the associates said.
Trump tweeted the next day that Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
Trump’s tweets on Thursday raised questions about why the president would have staked his reputation and political capital on promoting something that wasn’t real.
His earlier suggestion about tapes immediately evoked the secret White House recordings that led to Richard Nixon’s downfall in the Watergate scandal. Under a post-Watergate law, the Presidential Records Act, recordings made by presidents belong to the people…