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Assume calls to president are taped, ex-staff warn

16 Mai 2017

The FBI has been investigating alleged Russian meddling in the US election and possible ties between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

Trump elaborated in the interview on why he was considering the move.

"James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!" Mark Warner (D-Va.), said Friday that Comey would not appear that day, without providing further information.

Trump has said he removed Comey because he was not doing a good job and that Comey lost the support of Federal Bureau of Investigation employees.

Comey had been invited to testify before a closed session in the wake of his controversial firing by President Trump earlier this week, but declined to do so.

But it quickly became clear that the president had been stewing for days over the Russian Federation investigation and Comey's refusal to defend him in appearances before lawmakers.

His veiled threat was likely to add to the storm roiling Washington over Trump's abrupt firing of Comey on Tuesday.

Conflicting stories have emerged this week from Trump and associates close to Comey over whether Trump had asked Comey if he was under investigation and over whether Comey had answered.

Trump spent most of the week out of sight, a marked change from a typically jam-packed schedule that often includes multiple on-camera events per day.

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The New York Times late Thursday cited two unnamed Comey associates who recounted his tale of a January dinner with the president in which Trump asked for a pledge of loyalty. He's viewed even senior advisers suspiciously, including Bannon and Priebus, when stories about internal White House drama land in the press.

Doing so, however, would have been as easy as Trump putting a smartphone in his pocket and using a recording application, John Dean, who served as former President Richard Nixon's White House Counsel, told The News.

Trump sacked Comey on Tuesday stating that it was done on the recommendation of the Attorney General and the deputy Attorney General.

"Are you moving so quickly that your communications department can't keep up with you?"

He also threatened to cancel press briefings, suggesting via Twitter that they might instead be replaced with written statements "for the sake of accuracy".

The White House has said Comey's firing was unrelated to the Russian Federation probe, but in the interview with NBC News on Thursday, Trump said he knew he ran the risk that by firing Comey he would "confuse people" and "lengthen out the investigation" into ties to Russian Federation.

Trump went on to slam Democrats as "hypocrites" due to their previous condemnations of Comey and his handling of the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server. "Regardless of recommendation I was going to fire Comey".

It isn't clear whether Trump believes there actually are tapes.