White House refuses to say if conversations are being taped

After the New York Times reported that Trump had demanded Comey's "loyalty" - an account that apparently comes from Comey and which the White House disputes - Trump tweeted: "James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"

But Burr also said Trump's recent tweet about Comey was "inappropriate". "You have these tremendous - the level of hatred toward him, especially during that period of time with Hillary Clinton where he gave her a free ride", Trump said.

Mr Comey reportedly said he hopes there are tapes of his various conversations with Mr Trump.

The White House initially said Comey was sacked on the recommendation of the two top officials at the Justice Department.

"Mr. Comey declined to make that pledge".

The tweet seemed to suggest there are possibly recorded conversations between Trump and Comey that could be leaked to counter the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director if necessary.

"I think anyone who is serving officer in the government, and you're asked by the President for dinner, I think it is professional courtesy", he said.

Reuters White House Correspondent Jeff Mason first asked, "Did President Trump record his conversations with former FBI Director Comey?".

Several questions later, Time White House Correspondent Zeke Miller asks Spicer a third time about Comey-this time, a yes-or-no question, "Is the President of the United States now recording conversations taking place in the Oval Office?" "It was all him", spokesman Sean Spicer said, referring to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein.

Apparently angered by criticism of the different accounts of the sacking, Mr Trump used another of his tweets on Friday to say: "As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with ideal accuracy!"

He added: "Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future "press briefings" and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???"

In a letter released to the press on Friday afternoon, two top congressional Democrats, Elijah Cummings of Maryland and John Conyers of MI, asked the White House to hand over any such tapes "if they exist".

The reference to tapes has done nothing to silence the echoes of the Watergate affair that have resounded around the Russian interference inquiry.

Mr Trump has dismissed the FBI investigation as a "charade" and has said Democrats are using "fake news" about collusion with the Russians as an excuse for losing the election.

The prospect of secret recordings of White House meetings harkens back to the Nixon administration, when President Nixon taped Oval Office meetings.

  • Larry Hoffman