Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt praised President Donald Trump on June 23 for bluffing about possibly having tape recordings of conversations between himself and former FBI Director James Comey (video below).
During an interview with the president on "Fox and Friends," Earhardt asked Trump: "Big news today. You said you didn't tape James Comey. Do you want to explain that? Why did you want him to believe you possibly did that?" notes Media Matters for America.
In a long answer, Trump insisted he always told a "straight story," even though he tweeted on May 12: "James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"
Trump also asserted during the "Fox and Friends" interview that Comey's "story may have changed," but did not offer any proof:
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Well I didn't tape him. You never know what's happening when you see that the Obama administration, and perhaps longer than that, was doing all of this unmasking and surveillance. And you read all about it and I've been reading about it for the last couple of months about the seriousness and horrible situation with surveillance all over the place.
And you've been hearing the word "unmasking," a word you probably never heard before. So you never know what's out there, but I didn't tape and I don't have any tape and I didn't tape. But, when he found out that there may be tapes out there, whether it's governmental tapes or anything else, and who knows, I think his story may have changed.
I mean, you'll have to take a look at that because then he has to tell what actually took place at the events. And my story didn't change. My story was always a straight story. My story was always the truth. But you'll have to determine for yourself whether or not his story changed. But, I did not tape.
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Earhardt then praised Trump: "That was a smart way to make sure he stayed honest in those hearings."
Politifact noted that Trump's May 12 tweet actually caused Comey to speak to the press, per Comey's recollection during his testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8:
I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night, because it didn’t dawn on me originally that there might be corroboration for our conversation. There might be a tape. And my judgment was, I needed to get that out into the public square. And so I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter … because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.
Comey was also relieved to see Trump's tweet about the possible tape of their conversation: "I’ve seen the tweet about tapes. Lordy, I hope there are tapes. I hope there are, and I’ll consent to the release of them."