Published: Sat, May 13, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

Trump says he was always going to fire Federal Bureau of Investigation director


U.S. President Donald Trump has issued a comment on Twitter apparently warning former FBI Director James Comey against "leaking to the press", suggesting there might be "tapes" of their private conversations.

The White House has said Comey's firing was unrelated to the Russian Federation probe, but in the interview with NBC News on Thursday, Trump said he knew he ran the risk that by firing Comey he would "confuse people" and "lengthen out the investigation" into ties to Russian Federation.

In the termination letter to Mr Comey, Mr Trump said the firing was necessary to restore "public trust and confidence in the FBI".

The president spoke to NBC News anchor Lester Holt in the White House Thursday about Comey's firing.

In a series of early morning tweets, Trump assailed critics and the media over their response to Comey's ouster, and threatened to cancel daily news briefings at the White House.

Trump's statements raised even more questions about his decision to fire the FBI director who was running an investigation into possible collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russians seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election.

USA intelligence agencies concluded in January that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign of interference in the election aimed at tilting the vote in Trump's favour.

USA media, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, have reported differing accounts of meetings between Trump and Comey before his firing.

Moscow has denied interference in the election, and the Trump administration denies allegations of collusion with Russian Federation.

"I would find that very inconsistent with what I know of Jim Comey", Clapper explained.

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Neither the White House nor the Federal Bureau of Investigation immediately responded to a request for comment.

In one of his most memorable morning tweet blasts of his still-young presidency, Trump also lashed out at Democrats and the media, while trying to give Spicer and Sanders cover after a rough week.

The White House initially cited a Justice Department memo criticising Mr Comey's handling of last year's investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails as the impetus for Mr Trump's decision.

He tweeted that Mr Comey had "better hope there are no "tapes" of our conversations", suggesting such tapes, if they existed, might contradict him. Instead, Comey has recounted to others, he told Trump that he would always be honest with him, but that he was not "reliable" in the conventional political sense. Trump said the discussions happened in two phone calls in which Comey asked to keep his job.

"The president has nothing further to add on that", Spicer said numerous times in answer to rapid-fire questions.

In 1973, President Richard Nixon sacked Archibald Cox, the Watergate special prosecutor who was seeking access to tapes of presidential conversations that ultimately led to Mr Nixon's resignation. That appears to be a reference to a New York Times report that Trump demanded loyalty from Comey at a January dinner.

"No, I didn't", he said when asked if he gave that request.

Associates of Comey's told ABC News that they were skeptical that Comey would tell Trump he was in the clear amidst an ongoing investigation.

Asked about when the conversations took place, deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters she didn't have exact dates.

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