A Threat or a Warning: What is Behind Trump's Recent Remarks to Comey

An early Friday morning tweetstorm from US President Donald Trump to ex-FBI Director James Comey saying that he 'better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press" stirred up US media speculation over whether it was a warning or a threat.

On Friday morning, the sitting president of the United States might have threatened the former head of the FBI.

An early Friday morning tweet by the US President warned that ex-FBI Director James Comey "better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press."

​The tweet caused a stir in the US media.

On Friday, CNN reported that "Comey was 'taken aback' by Trump's request for a personal assurance or pledge of loyalty at a dinner shortly after he took office. Comey refused, saying he could not make such a pledge, but he promised to always be honest with the President."

President Donald Trump waves as he steps out of Air Force One during his arrival at JFK International airport in New York, Thursday, May 4, 2017 - Sputnik International
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The broadcaster quoted its source familiar with the matter as saying of the dinner between Comey and Trump on January 27 that it came at Trump's request and was one-on-one.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Friday rejected the idea that Trump asked Comey to pledge his loyalty.

"I think the President wants loyalty to his country and to the rule of law," Spicer said.

The broadcaster also reported that former FBI Director James Comey is "not worried about any tapes" of conversations between him and President Donald Trump, adding that "if there is a tape, there's nothing he is worried about" that could be on it.

However later in the day the US House Democrats have demanded that the White House hand over to the Congress the tapes of the January dinner between US President Donald Trump and former FBI Director James Comey.

​All copies of any possible recordings the White House has related to the dinner between US President Donald Trump and former FBI Director James Comey from January 27 dinner need to be turned over to Congress, the ranking members of House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight Committee said in a letter to White House Counsel Don McGahn on Friday.

"Under normal circumstances, we would not consider credible any claims that the White House may have taped conversations of meetings with the President," the letter stated. "However…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."

Vice President Mike Pence, second from left, and Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy stand as President Donald Trump shakes hands with FBI Director James Comey during a reception for inaugural law enforcement officers and first responders in the Blue Room of the White House, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017 in Washington - Sputnik International
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The letter noted Congressmen John Conyers and Elijah Cummings also want all documents, memos, analyses, emails or other communications related to Trump's decision to fire Comey turned over to Congress.

Meanwhile, Reuters regarded Donald Trump's tweet as a "warning to ousted FBI Director James Comey not to talk to the media, a highly unusual move that prompted fresh charges the president is trying to silence the man who led an investigation into possible collusion between Trump's election campaign and Russia."

"Critics have assailed Trump for dismissing the FBI chief just as the agency is investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US election, and possible Moscow ties to the Trump presidential campaign," it added.

On Friday, NBC News released excerpts of an interview with the President where he said that the former FBI Director "should have never exonerated" Hillary Clinton.

Trump, referring to the FBI's investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state, however said that the steady flow of news surrounding that probe helped him as a candidate in the 2016 presidential election.

"I will tell you that what he did, what Comey did, had good moments for me as a candidate. I'm only talking as a candidate, I'm not saying as president," Trump told NBC News' Lester Holt, beginning to recount a July 2016 press conference in which Comey announced the FBI would not recommend charges against Clinton in the case.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions holds his first meeting with heads of federal law enforcement components at the Justice Department. in Washington U.S., February 9, 2017 - Sputnik International
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"When he came out with that scathing set of circumstances, the server… the emails, 33,000 emails… Then he gets to the end and he said she's free as a bird," Trump said.

On Saturday, the US leader said he wants to move quickly to nominate a new FBI director to replace James Comey.

Trump told reporters traveling with him on Air Force One that he may be able to make his decision on the Federal Bureau of Investigation head before he leaves for his first foreign trip later next week.

Trump is considering 11 people to replace Comey, a White House official said. Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Republican Senator John Cornyn, New York Appeals Court Judge Michael Garcia and former Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher will be interviewed on Saturday for the post, an administration official said.

The decision is subject to confirmation by the US Senate, where Republicans have a majority.

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