Trump suggests he may cancel all White House press briefings

President Donald Trump tweeted Friday that former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey should hope there are no "tapes" of their conversations, threatened to cancel White House press briefings and touted a deal he said would allow the U.S.to sell beef and other products to China.

In the tweet, Trump also warned Comey about leaking to the press: "James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"

Durbin added that Trump's tweet on Friday "could be construed as threatening a witness in this investigation, which is another violation of federal law". Particularly eyebrow-raising was Trump's assertion that he had received three separate assurances from the FBI director that he is not now under investigation by the bureau.

At another point in the NBC interview, Mr. Trump said of the decision to fire Mr. Comey: "When I chose to do it, I said to myself, 'You know, this Russian Federation thing with Trump and Russian Federation is a made-up story'".

The FBI has confirmed an investigation is continuing and a number of congressional committees are also looking into the Russian connection.

The Times' report of the Trump-Comey dinner came on the same day Trump admitted to calling Comey and asking him if he's under investigation - a major departure from the story the White House had previously been telling about the chain of events that culminated in Comey's firing.

The White House also shifted its stance on whether Mr Comey's termination had anything to do with the Russian Federation investigation, at first saying it was not linked.

Asked in Friday's briefing about whether Mr. Trump had recorded the conversations, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said: "I've talked to the president".

In that same NBC interview, the president said he had chose to fire Comey because he was a "showboat" and a "grandstander" and also because "this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story", a reference to the FBI's ongoing investigation into the Russian government's campaign of cyberattacks directed at last year's presidential election as well as into possible ties between Trump associates and the Kremlin.

"Loyalty to the country, loyalty to the United States is important".

The New York Times said Comey told associates he declined to make a pledge of loyalty to Trump when the president requested it while they dined just seven days after his inauguration. "And the former senior FBI official said Comey would never have told the president he was not under investigation - also contradicting what Trump said".

He tweeted: "As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with ideal accuracy". "Trump tweeted on Friday, preceded by his threats to cancel briefings ".Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future "press briefings" and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???" He said in an interview on Thursday with NBC News that Comey gave him this assurance during the White House dinner and in two phone conversations.

In a striking reversal one day earlier, Trump told NBC News that he planned to fire Comey even before meeting with top-ranking Justice Department officials and soliciting their recommendations on his performance.

In his interview with NBC, Mr. Trump said he didn't ask Mr. Comey to drop the investigation.

Jeff Mason, the president of the White House Correspondents' Association, said: "Doing away with briefings would reduce accountability, transparency, and the opportunity for Americans to see that, in the USA system, no political figure is above being questioned".

US intelligence agencies concluded in January that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign of interference in the election aimed at tilting the vote in Trump's favour.

  • Leroy Wright