22 May, 2017
President Trump is warning ousted FBI Director James Comey not to leak anything damaging to the media or else face the prospect of releasing secret "tapes", raising the question of whether the White House is recording conversations - accusations the administration refused to deny.
During a Thursday interview with NBC's Lester Holt, Trump said he made the decision to fire Comey on his own, and that he would have done it regardless of what Rosenstein recommended, adding that he had been thinking of "this Russian Federation thing with Trump" when he came to his decision to fire Comey. Details of the dinner were first reported by The New York Times.
As for the shifting version of events surrounding Comey's ouster, the president argued that he is too busy for his staff to know all that is going on and suggested he could cancel press briefings altogether.
Trump also took to Twitter to warn Comey that he "better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press". He's been with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for more than 20 years, and is one of the Federal Bureau of Investigation officials who interviewed this week for the role of interim director.
Why did the president seek assurances from Comey that he was not a target of the FBI's ongoing investigation into Russia's interference with the 2016 election?
LESTER HOLT (HOST): Monday you met with the deputy attorney general Ron Rosenstein.
Mr. Comey made no comment, but later in the day he declined a request to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. Trump has openly vented his frustration with the media and Democrats on Twitter, musing about canceling press briefings and arguing that it's hard for aides to know his thinking.
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"I had a tape recorder, but the implication was this was a precaution to make double sure I quoted him accurately", said Blair, author of "The Trumps: Three Generations of Builders and a President".
Pearson and Lemire reported from NY.
He's been deeply involved for years in FBI efforts to fight terrorism, serving in supervisory roles in Iraq and Afghanistan and later overseeing FBI worldwide terrorism investigations as a section chief.
The White House initially said Trump fired Comey on the recommendation of the top Justice Department officials: Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Rosenstein.
Trump predicted, "I think the process is gonna go quickly, because nearly all of them are very well known, so - you know - they've been vetted over their lifetime, essentially".
The series of events has come following the accusation of the involvement of Russian authorities in USA presidential elections 2016, leading to Trump's victory.