President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he did not record or possess any tapes of his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey.
“With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are ‘tapes’ or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Trump had previously hinted at the possibility that there might be tapes of the conversations.
Former Director of the FBI, James Comey, has said he took memos of his conversations with the President. Comey has alleged that the president asked him for his loyalty and in a separate conversation had asked whether Comey could let go of the FBI investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Both President Trump and his lawyer have strongly denied those statements.
Despite multiple requests by congress, Comey has not provided it with the alleged memos he took. Instead, he admitted during a June 8 hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that he had leaked some of the documents to The New York Times, through a friend, in an attempt to get a special prosecutor appointed—a position now filled by former FBI director Robert Mueller, who has had a longtime professional and personal relationship with Comey.
Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice admitted earlier this year to unmasking the names of members of the Trump team during the 2016 presidential election.
Normally intelligence reports are ‘masked,’ meaning that the identity of American citizens are omitted, which is required by law, to protect their privacy. However, they can be unmasked on a case-by-case basis by a select few individuals in government and intelligence agencies who have the authority to do so.
Only the person who requested the unmasked name would be provided with it, given its classified nature. However, as in the case of the Trump team, a number of pieces of information that were obtained using unmasking were leaked to media organizations, including The Washington Post.
Some of the information was also spread throughout the government. Former Obama administration official Evelyn Farkas admitted in an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on March 2 that there was a last-ditch effort to spread information obtained on Trump throughout the government.
“I was urging my former colleagues, and frankly speaking the people on the Hill, it was more actually aimed at telling the Hill people, get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can, before President Obama leaves the administration,” said Farkas.
Government watchdog Judicial Watch had requested the records of the unmasking requests made by former National Security Adviser Susan Rice from the National Security Council (NSC). In a response it received, the agency said that all documents pertaining to Susan Rice had been moved from the NSC to the Obama presidential library where they would remain sealed for five years.