Donald Trump: I did not record Comey chats on Russia scandal | Americas| North and South American news impacting on Europe | DW | 22.06.2017
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Donald Trump: I did not record Comey chats on Russia scandal

Despite previously hinting otherwise, US President Donald Trump has said he did not record talks with his ousted FBI director. Trump is facing an ongoing crisis over his campaign's possible collusion with Russia.

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Trump 'did not record' talks with fired FBI chief

US President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday that "I did not make, and do not have" any recordings of his White House conversations with the former FBI Director James Comey, whom he fired last month.

"With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information," Trump said he had "no idea" whether there are "tapes" or recordings of the two men's conversations.

His tweet contradicts a previous comment in which the US leader appeared to threaten Comey, saying he had "better hope there are no 'tapes' of our conversations."

That comment was widely reported to be a reference to a conversation Trump allegedly had with Comey, demanding that the FBI drop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Flynn resigned in February after just 24 days in office amid allegations of possible collusion between Trump officials and Russia before last November's US election.

Trump fired Comey on May 9, citing another FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server. But the billionaire immediately faced accusations of political interference into the ongoing Russia probe.

Ex-FBI chief Robert Mueller's was subsequently appointed by the Justice Department as special counsel to lead the probe on Russia.

Trump under investigation

Trump has since faced demands from lawmakers to release any recordings that are relevant to the deepening investigation, as the Justice Department holds a separate investigation into possible obstruction of justice by the president in the Russia probe.

Comey has since leaked his own private documents detailing several discussions with Trump, whom he accused of improperly pressuring him over the Russia 

Allegations of collusion with Russia have cast a shadow over Trump's first five months in office, distracting from attempts by his fellow Republicans in Congress to reform the US health care and tax systems.

Read more: US Vice President Pence hires lawyer for Russia probes

Read more: Opinion: Donald Trump and the art of creating chaos

Trump: Mueller-Comey friendship 'bothersome'

In an interview with US broadcaster Fox News on Thursday, Trump said it was "bothersome" that Special Counsel Mueller was friends with Comey.

In a partial interview transcript released by the broadcaster late on Thursday, Trump said that Mueller was "very, very good friends with Comey, which is very bothersome."

Asked whether Mueller should step aside from the investigation, the president said: "We're going to have to see."

Mueller and Comey worked together at the Justice Department under President George W. Bush. Comey also succeeded Mueller as director of the FBI in 2013.

Trump also used the interview dismiss the allegations given against him. "Look, there has been no obstruction, there has been no collusion." 

The full interview was scheduled to be broadcast on Friday.

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Russia meddled with the US election: Comey

New revelations reported

Earlier Thursday, broadcaster CNN reported that two top US intelligence officials have told investigators Trump suggested they publicly deny any collaboration between his campaign and Russian officials.

Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence and Admiral Mike Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, were cited as saying they found Trump's suggestion odd and uncomfortable, but stressed they did not act on his requests.

Moscow has denied US allegations that it tried to tilt the election campaign in Trump's favor by various means, including the hacking of emails of senior Democrats.

Trump has also repeatedly refuted the allegations, describing them as a "witch hunt."

Also Thursday, Trump again blasted Democrats over the Russia scandal, asking why his predecessor, Barack Obama, did not do more to stop it.

mm, dm/cmk (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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