President Donald Trump has stated that he did not ask former FBI Director James Comey for his loyalty at a January White House meeting.
Trump made the comments in an interview with Fox News due to air May 13.
"No, I didn't, but I don't think it would be a bad question to ask," Trump said, according to Reuters. "Loyalty to the country, loyalty to the United States is important. I mean it depends on how you define loyalty."
Earlier May 12, Trump suggested there may be tapes of the conversation in question.
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"Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press," Trump tweeted, according to the Canadian Press.
But he did not want to get into details about this subject in the interview.
"That I can't talk about. I won't talk about that," Trump said when asked, Reuters reported.
"All I want is for Comey to be honest and I hope he will be and I'm sure he will be - I hope," Trump added.
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Trump's reference to the existence of tapes prompted Democrats to make comparisons with the behavior of Richard Nixon during the Watergate crisis. Some suggested it amounted to a threat to Comey to stay silent.
"Do secret recordings exist?" Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi asked in a letter addressed to the White House attorney. "If so, could the White House please provide copies of the president's conversations with Comey; conversations about the hiring or firing of Russia-friendly former general Michael Flynn and the meeting this week with Russia's ambassador and foreign minister?"
When a question was raised on the issue at the daily press briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer echoed Trump's statements on the matter: "I've talked to the president. The president has nothing further to add on that," Spicer said, according to the Canadian Press.
Nixon used seven microphones to record conversations in the Oval Office; the information his taping system recorded helped secure his downfall.
"Presidents are supposed to have stopped routinely taping visitors without their knowledge when Nixon's taping system was revealed in 1973," historian Michael Beschloss tweeted.
Reports suggest that Trump has embraced the use of taping conversations. He is allegedly able to listen to all telephone conversations from his Mar-a-Lago resort, and BuzzFeed noted last October that monitoring systems were installed at two of his golf clubs.
A source close to Comey indicated that the former FBI director had no reason for concern if tapes do exist.
"He hopes there are tapes. That would be perfect," the source said, according to a tweet from NBC's Katy Tur.
Sources: Reuters, U.S. Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, Michael Beschloss/Twitter, Canadian Press via Global News, Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Donald J. Trump/Twitter, Katy Tur/Twitter / Photo credit: The White House/Wikimedia Commons