Donald Trump says his bluff on Twitter suggesting that he had taped conversations with former FBI Director James Comey “wasn’t very stupid”.
The President said so during an interview with Fox & Friends, his first television appearance in over a month. Mr Trump indicated that his comment about tapes may have forced Mr Comey to change his story for fear that he would be contradicted by recordings – though the threat of tapes existing would not have impacted memos written by the former intelligence chief contemporaneously while he was at the FBI.
“Well, it wasn’t very stupid, I can tell you that”, Mr Trump told Ainsley Earhardt after she commented that his tactics were a smart way to keep Mr Comey honest. “He did admit that what I said was right, and, if you look further back before he heard about that, maybe he was not admitting that”.
Whether Mr Trump’s tape comments were a stroke of strategic genius or not, they haven't kept Mr Comey from causing headaches in the White House.
After the tweet, Mr Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee to make his account of interactions with the President public. During that testimony he confirmed that the President was not under investigation when he was at the head of the FBI, but said that he felt pressure from the President to drop an investigation into Russian connections to a Trump campaign official.
That testimony reportedly caught the attention of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed to lead the Russia investigations following Mr Comey’s firing. Mr Mueller’s team is now reportedly investigating whether Mr Trump attempted to obstruct justice in his comments to Mr Comey about the FBI’s investigation, and whether he furthered that attempted obstruction by firing the former FBI chief.
Mr Trump has publicly admitted that the Russia probe was at least part of the rationale in deciding to fire Mr Comey.
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