The Republican leading the House’s Russia probe says he’s still waiting for the White House’s response to his request for any recordings of President Donald Trump’s conversations with former FBI Director James Comey.
Trump tweeted yesterday that he didn’t create any recordings of those meetings, nor does he know whether any exist. But Rep. Mike Conaway said those tweets don’t constitute an official response from the White House.
“I don’t think tweets are ever official,” the Texas Republican said. “We’d like something on letterhead.”
Conaway and his Democratic counterpart on the House intelligence committee, Rep Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), requested any tapes of the president’s conversations with Comey two weeks ago and gave the White House counsel Don McGahn until June 23 to respond.
“Today’s the day,” Conaway noted, adding that he’s still heard nothing from the White House.
He declined to say if he would issue a subpoena for the tapes if he doesn’t get an answer. “I don’t talk about stuff I might do,” Conaway said. But some Democrats have signaled that’s their preferred response if the White House continues to stonewall.
Questions about the existence of such tapes arose after Trump tweeted in mid-May, days after he fired Comey, that such tapes might exist. Details of Comey’s meetings with the president — in which he described feeling prodded by Trump to back off the agency’s Russia investigation — had begun to emerge in press accounts.
That led Trump to tweet on May 12: “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
For more than a month, Trump has refused to clarify whether such tapes exist.
On Thursday, a day before the House committee’s deadline, Trump issued a statement on Twitter.
“With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, 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,” he wrote.
Trump’s critics, though, said the tweets themselves fail to clear up the matter and say they want to understand why Trump would hint at the existence of tapes in the first place. In an interview on Fox & Friends that aired Friday morning, Trump suggested his goal was to prevent Comey from changing his story.
In sworn testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee last month, Comey indicated that it was Trump’s tweet about tapes that prompted him to go public with details of conversations with the president, which he memorialized in memos that he kept contemporaneously.