Hinting at secret tapes, Trump warns ousted FBI director

Evan Vucci  AP

The White House wouldn't rule out, hours later, the possibility that the president's three known conversations with his then-FBI chief were recorded.

Trump tweeted, "James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"

The article was based on interviews with two Comey associates whom he had told of the meeting, which they said Trump had requested.

The blowback against the firing of Comey angered the increasingly frustrated president, who made the decision after consulting only a small group of advisers, anxious the news would leak out.

Associates of the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director, who remained out of sign today at his suburban Virginia home, said they believed any recording would validate Comey's side of the story.

The termination letter from President Donald Trump to FBI Director James Comey is photographed in Washington, Tuesday, May 9, 2017.

Sources have told CNN that Trump's decision to ax Comey was made after he grew increasingly frustrated with him following a congressional hearing last week in which he said he was "mildly nauseous" over the idea that he helped sway the 2016 election.

Even before Trump's provocative tweets, the White House was scrambling to clarify why Comey was sacked.

May 16, 2017: A person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press that Comey wrote a memo after the February 14 meeting with the president that said Trump had asked him to shut down the FBI investigation into Flynn.

Sessions has faced questions over whether his involvement in Comey's firing violates his pledge to recuse himself from investigations into Russian interference in the election. "If there's tapes of this conversation, they need to be turned over".

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January 22, 2017: Two days after taking office, Trump appears to single out Comey at a White House reception to thank law enforcement officers and others that helped during the inauguration. Trump calls Comey over to where he is standing in the Blue Room to offer a handshake and a partial hug, then comments that Comey has "become more famous than me".

"We had a very nice dinner and at that time he told me you are not under investigation", said Trump. They can make recommendations, but the president will ultimately make the hiring decision.

"I don't know", the foreign minister said in reply to a question about why a scandal had aroused in the United States media.

Pearson reported from NY.

The swirling controversy has obliterated any momentum from the House passage of the Republican health care bill last week and threatens to overshadow Trump's first global trip, beginning next week, in which the president will meet with leaders in both the Middle East and Europe. Press secretary Sean Spicer comically ducked behind shrubbery on the White House grounds, hiding from television cameras, to give reporters a confused and disjointed account of the dismissal.

Trump's popularity didn't seem to take a significant hit from the Comey investigation - it dropped one point from last month's NBC/WSJ survey to 39% support.

While Democrats have called for an independent special counsel to investigate the Russian Federation matter, most Republicans have said that is not necessary given the FBI probe and investigations in both the House and Senate. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said his panel or another committee would "absolutely" subpoena the tapes.

The shifting accounts of the decision to fire Comey, whom Trump derided as a "showboat" and "grandstander", added to a mounting sense of uncertainty and chaos in the West Wing, as aides scrambled to get their stories straight and appease an angry president. But he called Trump's tweet "inappropriate".

Cornyn, a former Texas attorney general.

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