News ID: 192695
Published: 0725 GMT May 13, 2017

With a threat of 'tapes', Trump tells ousted FBI chief not to talk to media

With a threat of 'tapes', Trump tells ousted FBI chief not to talk to media

Donald Trump warned ousted FBI director James Comey on Friday not to talk to the media, a highly unusual move that prompted fresh charges the US president is trying to silence the man who led an investigation into possible collusion between Trump's election campaign and Russia.

On Twitter, Trump appeared to suggest that if Comey gave his version of contacts between them, the administration might produce tapes of conversations, although it was not clear if such tapes exist. The veiled threat added to the storm over Trump's abrupt firing of Comey on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

Critics have assailed Trump for dismissing the FBI chief just as the agency is investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US election, and possible Moscow ties to the Trump presidential campaign.

The New York Times reported the president asked Comey in January to pledge loyalty to him and that Comey refused to do so; he only pledged honesty. Such a request would undermine the standing of the FBI chief as an independent law enforcer and further fueled charges that Trump has overstepped the norms of his office.

“James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Trump said in a string of Twitter posts on Friday.

Trump told Fox News he did not ask Comey to pledge loyalty and only wants him to be honest. Trump said he would not talk about the existence of any tapes.

CNN said Comey is “not worried about any tapes” Trump may have, citing an unnamed source familiar with the matter.

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner, told MSNBC that Congress would want to look at the tapes, if they exist.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation probe and parallel congressional investigations have clouded Trump’s presidency since he took office on Jan. 20, threatening to overwhelm his policy priorities.

Democrats accuse the Republican president of trying to dent the FBI probe by firing Comey and have called for a special counsel to investigate the Russia issue.

The No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Richard Durbin, went further on Friday and said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should appoint an independent special prosecutor to pursue possible criminal charges related to Comey's firing, although he did not specify if he meant such charges should be against Trump.

But Rosenstein does not see the need at this time for a special prosecutor, CNN reported. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

Trump told Fox News in an interview he did not think an independent probe was necessary.

 

   
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