After Donald Trump tweeted to James Comey that the axed FBI director “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations” two House Democrats demanded that Trump turn over any tapes he may have.
Trump’s tweet created a flood of speculation because he didn’t say whether he had tapes of his talks with Comey, or was concerned that Comey might have recordings. Trump and his team have refused to clarify that point. So Michigan Rep. John Conyers and Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings sought answers — and any tapes Trump made.
“Because of the many false statements made by White House officials this week, we are compelled to ask whether any such recordings do in fact exist. If so, we request copies of all recordings in possession of the White House regarding this matter,” they wrote Friday.
Talk of the tapes revived Watergate comparisons many Trump critics have raised since he fired Comey — an event some compared to President Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre.”
As the Los Angeles Times details in this story, the existence of Nixon’s secret tapes became known during the investigation into the 1972 burglary of Democrats’ offices at the Watergate office complex. A special prosecutor subpoenaed the tapes, which showed Nixon had obstructed the investigation. Nixon soon resigned.
Friday’s request followed the president’s Friday morning tweet and an interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt in which Trump suggested that Comey was fired because he was investigating Trump campaign officials and their connection to the Russian government.
Friday’s letter also demanded all “documents, memoranda, analyses, emails, and other communications” relating to Comey.
Conyers and Cummings have asked for a response by the close of business on Thursday, May 25.
During Friday’s daily press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer would neither confirm nor deny that conversations are recorded in the Oval Office.
“The president has nothing further to add on that,” Spicer said. When reporters persisted, Spicer repeatedly replied, “The president has nothing further to add on that” and “the tweet speaks for itself,” finally wrapping up with, “The tweet speaks for itself. I’m moving on.”
Read Conyers and Cummings’ letter here: Letter to WH Counsel 5.12.