When it comes to any potential recordings of conversations with fired FBI head James Comey, there is bipartisan agreement that the president must turn them over. Speaking on Sunday talk shows, lawmakers from the two parties said Trump doesn’t have any choice but to turn over any tapes that could exist. Speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said it is time for Trump to come clean about whether he recorded conversations at the White House.
“You can’t be cute about tapes. If there are any tapes of this conversation, they need to be turned over,” Graham said. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah also agreed with his fellow Republican, saying “it’s probably inevitable” that any existing tapes would be subpoenaed. He also said it was “not necessarily the best idea” to be recording White House conversations.
Trump first raised the possibility that there were tapes in a tweet last week in which he seemed to threaten the recently fired FBI chief: “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” His press secretary later refused to confirm or deny whether the president was recording White House conversations. And in an interview with Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro, Trump refused to get into the issue. “That I can’t talk about. I won’t talk about that,” Trump said in the interview. “All I want is for Comey to be honest. And I hope he will be. And I’m sure he will be—I hope.”
Democrats also expressed outrage at Trump trying to play it coy with the existence of tapes. Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said it was “remarkable” that Trump’s press secretary would not confirm or deny if there are tapes. “The whole notion that the president can throw out these kind of claims and then not either confirm or deny them is outrageous in my mind,” Warner said.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer agreed Trump must provide Congress any tapes that exist and said his colleagues are currently analyzing whether they should refuse to vote for a new FBI director unless a special prosecutor is named to probe any ties between Russia and Trump. “I think there are a lot of Democrats who feel that way,” Schumer said on CNN’s State of the Union. “We’ll have to discuss it as a caucus, but I would support that move.”