After announcing Thursday that he did not have recordings of his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey – recordings that weeks earlier he had suggested might exist – President Donald Trump said in an interview that aired Friday that “my story didn’t change.”
“I don’t have any tape and I didn’t tape,” Trump told Fox News’s “Fox & Friends” in an interview taped on Thursday, reiterating what he had announced earlier that day on Twitter. “My story didn’t change. My story was always a straight story. My story was always the truth.”
The president fired Comey last month, a decision he later said he made with the FBI’s ongoing investigation into the 2016 presidential campaign and the Russian government’s effort to interfere in it weighing on his mind. Days after that firing, Trump wrote online that the fired director “better hope there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
Comey, in subsequent testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that that tweet had prompted him to relay to the media the contents of his notes from meetings with the president in which Trump allegedly asked him to end the bureau’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
At the hearing, Comey said it had not occurred to him that tapes might exist until Trump raised the possibility. The former bureau director told the committee “Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” publicly giving the president his blessing to release them if he did.
Until Thursday’s announcement from Trump, the White House had been unwilling to either confirm or deny the existence of recordings, leaving the question open for weeks.
Trump said his suggestion that tapes might exist kept Comey from lying about his interactions with the president.
“When he found out that I, you know, that there may be tapes out there, whether it’s governmental tapes or anything else, and who knows, I think his story may have changed,” Trump said. “You’ll have to take a look at that, because then he has to tell what actually took place at the events… You’ll have to determine for yourself whether or not his story changed.”
“So it was a smart way to make sure he stayed honest in those hearings?” Fox News anchor Ainsley Earhardt followed up.
“Well, it wasn’t very stupid, I can tell you that. He was — he did admit that what I said was right. And if you look further back, before he heard about that, I think maybe he wasn’t admitting that,” Trump said without specifying to which of Comey’s past statements he was alluding. “So you’ll have to do a little investigative reporting to determine that. But I don’t think it will be that hard.”