World

Trump: No Comey tapes

US President denies obstructing probe, recording conversations with ex-FBI chief

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said on Thursday he had not obstructed the Federal Bureau of Investigation's probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and had not recorded his conversations with former FBI chief James Comey.

Mr Comey was leading the investigation into allegations Russia tried to sway the election toward Mr Trump and the possibility Trump associates colluded with Moscow when the president fired him on May 9, sparking a political firestorm.

"Look there has been no obstruction, there has been no collusion," Mr Trump told Fox News Channel in an interview set to air yesterday. Fox released a partial transcript of the interview on Thursday.

The former head of the FBI testified before a Senate committee that Mr Trump had asked him to drop a probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn's alleged ties to Russia.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Trump said he did not make and does not possess any tapes of his conversations with Mr Comey, after suggesting last month he might have recordings that could undercut Mr Comey's description of events.

"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," Mr Trump wrote on Twitter.

RECORDINGS

Lawmakers investigating allegations of Russian interference in the US election had asked the White House for any such recordings.

Shortly after dismissing Mr Comey, Mr Trump mentioned the possibility of tapes in a Twitter post. "James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!" Mr Trump tweeted on May 12.

Allegations of ties to Russia have cast a shadow over Mr Trump's first five months in office, distracting from attempts by his fellow Republicans in Congress to overhaul the US healthcare and tax systems.

Mr Trump has privately told aides that the threat of the existence of tapes forced Mr Comey to tell the truth in his recent testimony, a source familiar with the situation said.

Mr Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, said Mr Trump still had questions to answer about possible tapes.

"If the president had no tapes, why did he suggest otherwise? Did he seek to mislead the public? Was he trying to intimidate or silence James Comey? And if so, did he take other steps to discourage potential witnesses from speaking out?" Mr Schiff said in a statement. - REUTERS

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