Published: Tue, May 16, 2017
U.S. | By Eddie Scott

Former FBI Chief James Comey declines to testify before Senate

The Illinois lawmaker asked for confirmation of any taping system in any location, and any tapes or recordings of White House conversations, particularly with Comey, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, whom Trump fired on February 13, and with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Comey's ouster Tuesday, while his FBI led an investigation into possible coordination between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign, raises the potential that a man long defined by his independent streak, willingness to buck protocol and even a flair for the dramatic could resurface to publicly rebut White House efforts to smear his reputation.

US Republicans struggling to pass a health care overhaul and tax reform this year have seen their path narrow, as Congress reels from fallout over President Donald Trump's firing of his Federal Bureau of Investigation director.

He tweeted on Friday: "James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"

"The declaration by voters that President Donald Trump's first 100 days were mainly a failure and deepening concerns about Trump's honesty, intelligence and level headedness are red flags that the administration simply can't brush away", Malloy added. Press Secretary Sean Spicer and his deputy Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeatedly gave this as the explanation to the press.

As for the shifting version of events surrounding Comey's ouster, the president argued that he is too busy for his staff to know all that is going on and suggested he could cancel press briefings altogether. "The president has nothing to add on that", Spicer responded, followed by: "As I said, for the third time, there is nothing further to add on that".

Then, asked to answer a yes or no question about whether Trump records his official conversations, Spicer again refused to say. "I thought that this would be a very popular thing, that I did, when I terminated Comey, because all of the Democrats couldn't stand him", Trump said.

A roller-coast week for the White House ended with more turbulence and questions.

The FBI chief had confided he was concerned it might compromise his Trump-Russia inquiry, said Mr Clapper.

"From my vantage, the morale in the Federal Bureau of Investigation was very high", he said.

That and similar reports apparently led to Trump's tweet.

Under normal circumstances, we would not consider credible any claims that the White House may have taped conversations of meetings with the President. In the last months of his tenure, Mr Comey had announced his agency was conducting an investigation into possible Trump campaign ties to Russian Federation, but was unable to provide much more detail. That night, he emerged from among the bushes in the dark at the White House and he addressed reporters about Comey's dismissal. Spicer was serving his U.S. Navy Reserve duty.

With several Trump aides still under investigation, many express concern about supporting Trump and being exposed if another shoe drops down the line. But it is the president who keeps raising the issue.

President Trump told lawmakers he fired FBI Director James B. Comey at the recommendation of the Justice Department but later contradicted that reason in an interview.

"I had a tape recorder, but the implication was this was a precaution to make double sure I quoted him accurately", said Blair, author of "The Trumps: Three Generations of Builders and a President". One of those conversations was over dinner. The FBI director also dismisses the president's tweets alleging that Obama ordered Trump Tower to be wiretapped during the election.

Comey said that Trump requested that he pledge to the president his loyalty during a January dinner, according to a person close to the former director. But it would have confirmed that Trump surrounded himself with a number of disreputable advisers who had shady and possible illegal dealings with Russian operatives and officials. Plus, at some point, Comey himself might have something to say.

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