Who needs public service when you can have private surveillance.
In a Twitter screed that seemed to break new ground, even for him, President Trump on Friday appeared to threaten the recently terminated FBI Director with secret recordings of conversations the two men have held.
“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Trump tweeted.
The message appeared to refer to the conflicting accounts by Trump and Comey of conversations the two men had in the weeks leading up to the ex-spy agency chief’s firing.
In an interview with NBC News on Thursday, Trump said Comey asked for a White House dinner, which was one of three occasions when Comey had told him “you are not under investigation.”
Trump told NBC News’ Lester Holt that Comey wanted to make a pitch to keep his job.
“I think he asked for the dinner, and he wanted to stay on as the FBI head,” the President said.
But associates of Comey told The New York that Trump had asked Comey to pledge his loyalty to him, a request that Comey turned down,
Comey felt that conversation, which occurred over a dinner in January, was the beginning of his downfall, The Times reported.
Comey declined to make the pledge twice at the one-on-one dinner. Instead, he told others, he told Trump that he would always be honest with him, but that he was not “reliable” in the conventional political sense, according to The Times.
Trump’s tweet about “tapes” is bound to draw even more comparison between his administration of that of former President Richard Nixon.
His sudden and brazen firing of Comey — who was leading a probe into the Trump campaign’s possible Russia ties — drew immediate comparisons to Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre,” when the besieged President fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox in 1973. U.S. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus resigned the same night. The Watergate scandal had been ballooning for more than a year at that point, and it would only explode from there. Less than a year after the “massacre,” Nixon resigned.
Nixon, of course, was also known to have installed a comprehensive taping system inside the Oval Office, as well as other rooms inside the White House and Camp David. It was his initial refusal to hand over those tapes to investigators that led to the “massacre.”
Trump’s tweets are even more shocking considering he himself attacked former President Obama on Twitter earlier this year with unfounded allegations of having ordered illegal wiretaps on Trump Tower during the campaign.
Meanwhile, Trump, as part of a 7-tweet rant that started before 8:00 a.m. on Friday, also ripped the “fake” media and suggested that he might cancel the White House daily press briefings that have been a hallmark of presidential administrations since the Woodrow Wilson administration more than 100 years ago.
“The Fake Media is working overtime today!,” Trump tweeted.
“As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!…….Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future “press briefings” and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???” he added in a pair of posts.
Trump also insisted, again, that any possible “collusion between the Russians & Trump campaign was fabricated by Dems as an excuse for losing the election,” despite the fact that such an outcome is still being investigated by the FBI, the House Intelligence Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“When James Clapper himself, and virtually everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt, says there is no collusion, when does it end?” Trump added.
Trump’s tweets have become increasingly erratic — even for him — in recent days, following his abrupt decision to fire Comey — a call that was widely criticized by Democrats and Republicans alike.
And as his administration came under increasing fire for the unexpected dismissal, Trump himself, as well as his aides, have inundated the public with a whiplash-inducing amount of misleading statements, bizarre tweets and contradictory accounts of how the agency chief’s tenure came to an end.
The dizzying onslaught surrounding one of the biggest shakeups in modern presidential history included attacks on the media, tweets about Rosie O’Donnell and an ill-timed sit down with the Russian foreign minister.
On Thursday, blew a hole in his administration’s claims that he fired Comey at the behest of top Department of Justice officials, saying instead it was always his plan.
“Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey,” he told NBC News’ Lester Holt.
“He’s a showboat, he’s grandstander, the FBI has been in turmoil,” Trump added without a touch of irony. “You know that, I know that. Everybody knows that.”
Those comments directly contradicted his own surrogates’ claims that the decision followed a formal recommendation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Later Thursday, Trump retweeted a message that comedienne and Trump foil Rosie O’Donnell sent in December: “FIRE COMEY.”
“We finally agree on something Rosie,” Trump added.
The President later appeared to vent his frustrations over the reactions to Comey’s dismissal.
“Russia must be laughing up their sleeves watching as the U.S. tears itself apart over a Democrat EXCUSE for losing the election,” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, he was welcoming top Russian officials in the Oval Office on Wednesday, and allowing Russian state media — but not U.S. reporters — to observe.
The Russians’ pictures showed Trump and two top Russian diplomats — one of whom the White House never acknowledged was in the meeting — appearing to share some laughs the day after the Comey canning.
“They tricked us,” an angry White House official told CNN after the photos were posted by Russia’s news agency, TASS.
Trump also took aim at his perceived adversaries in the media, calling CNN’s Don Lemon “the dumbest person in broadcasting,” comparing Chris Cuomo to “a chained lunatic,” and calling Stephen Colbert a “no-talent” and “filthy” in other interviews.