Donald Trump has made an unprecedented threat to cancel all future press briefings and only issue written statements, after his administration was criticised for shifting its story about the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
In an early morning tweet that came after a barrage of criticism for the way the White House had repeatedly changed the details of its story over the axing of Mr Comey, the president said that because of his busy schedule and with lots of things happening, it was not “possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy”.
He then tweeted: “Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future “press briefings” and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???
Mr Trump’s taunt will likely be criticised by media organisations around the world. The president has already been condemned for his relationship with the media, both in terms of the questionable accuracy of statements made by the White House, and his repeated criticism of the “fake news” he claims is written about him the press. His senior advisor, Stephen Bannon, has referred to the media as "the opposition".
And while Mr Trump has given frequent interviews to the media, he has been criticised for what many consider his contempt to the tradition of the White House press corps. On several occasions, he has been criticised for not informing the press corps or his movements, or of limiting access.
Just this week, the US media was angry about being kept out of a meeting between Mr Trump and the Russian foreign minister, while admitting a Russian photographer into the room where they were meeting.
Earlier, Mr Trump's press secretary, Sean Spicer, was criticised for holding a press briefing to which only selected media organisations were invited. When the Associated Press learned that not every outlet had permission to attend, its reporter boycotted the event in a display of journalistic solidarity.
Mr Trump’s tweet came after he personally contradicting previous explanations provided by his White House over the sequence of events that led to the firing of Mr Comey.
Initially, a succession of officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, said Mr Trump took the decision after acting of the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
But in an interview with NBC, Mr Trump said he had made up his mind to fire the FBI Director before obtaining memos from the two senior officials i the Justice Department. Indeed, as it became clear that the documents had been hastily put together to create cover for Mr Trump, Mr Rosenstein reportedly threatened to resign.
The biggest names involved in the Trump-Russia investigation
The biggest names involved in the Trump-Russia investigation
1/11 Paul Manafort
Mr Manafort is a Republican strategist and former Trump campaign manager. He resigned from that post over questions about his extensive lobbying overseas, including in Ukraine where he represented pro-Russian interests.
2/11 Mike Flynn
Mr Flynn was named as Trump's national security adviser but was forced to resign from his post for inappropriate communication with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. He had misrepresented a conversation he had with Mr Kislyak to Vice President Mike Pence, telling him wrongly that he had not discussed sanctions with the Russian.
3/11 Sergey Kislyak
Mr Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US, is at the centre of the web said to connect President Donald Trump's campaign with Russia.
4/11 Roger Stone
Mr Stone is a former Trump adviser who worked on the political campaigns of Richard Nixon, George HW Bush, and Ronald Reagan. Mr Stone claimed repeatedly in the final months of the campaign that he had backchannel communications with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and that he knew the group was going to dump damaging documents to the campaign of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton - which did happen. Mr Stone also had contacts with the hacker Guccier 2.0 on Twitter, who claimed to have hacked the DNC and is linked to Russian intelligence services.
5/11 Jeff Sessions
The US attorney general was forced to recuse himself from the Trump-Russia investigation after it was learned that he had lied about meeting with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.
6/11 Carter Page
Mr Page is a former advisor to the Trump campaign and has a background working as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch. Mr Page met with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Mr Page had invested in oil companies connected to Russia and had admitted that US Russia sanctions had hurt his bottom line.
7/11 Jeffrey "JD" Gorden
Mr Gordon met with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 Republian National Convention to discuss how the US and Russia could work together to combat Islamist extremism should then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump win the election. The meeting came days before a massive leak of DNC emails that has been connected to Russia.
8/11 Jared Kushner
Mr Kushner is President Donald Trump's son-in-law and a key adviser to the White House. He met with a Russian banker appointed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in December. Mr Kushner has said he did so in his role as an adviser to Mr Trump while the bank says he did so as a private developer. Mr Kushner has also volunteered to testify in the Senate about his role helping to arrange meetings between Trump advisers and Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.
9/11 James Comey
Mr Comey was fired from his post as head of the FBI by President Donald Trump. The timing of Mr Comey's firing raised questions around whether or not the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign may have played a role in the decision.
10/11 Preet Bharara
Mr Bahara refused, alongside 46 other US district attorney's across the country, to resign once President Donald Trump took office after previous assurances from Mr Trump that he would keep his job. Mr Bahara had been heading up several investigations including one into one of President Donald Trump's favorite cable television channels Fox News. Several investigations would lead back to that district, too, including those into Mr Trump's campaign ties to Russia, and Mr Trump's assertion that Trump Tower was wiretapped on orders from his predecessor.
11/11 Sally Yates
Ms Yates, a former Deputy Attorney General, was running the Justice Department while President Donald Trump's pick for attorney general awaited confirmation. Ms Yates was later fired by Mr Trump from her temporary post over her refusal to implement Mr Trump's first travel ban. She had also warned the White House about potential ties former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to Russia after discovering those ties during the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign's connections to Russia.
“Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey,” Mr Trump said, referring to the ousted law enforcement official as a “showboat” and a “grandstander”.
“The FBI has been in turmoil,” Mr Trump claimed. “You know that, I know that, everyone knows that.”
Mr Trump also claimed in the interview that he had asked Mr Comey directly if he was under investigation personally as part of the bureau’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia’s alleged effort to influence the 2016 presidential election.
“I said, ‘If it's possible, would you let me know, am I under investigation?’ He said you are not under investigation,” Mr Trump said. He said the discussions happened in two phone calls and at a dinner in which Mr Comey was asking to keep his job.
Mr Comey has not confirmed Mr Trump’s account of the events. The New York Times cited two unnamed associates of Mr Comey who recounted his tale of a January dinner with the president in which Mr Trump asked for a pledge of loyalty.
Mr Comey declined, apparently, instead offering “honesty”. When Mr Trump then pressed for “honest loyalty”, Mr Comey told the president: “You will have that.”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders disputed the report and said the president would “never even suggest the expectation of personal loyalty”.
In another tweet, Mr Trump appeared to threaten Mr Comey not to speak to the media. He said: “James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”Reuse content