President Donald Trump has suggested that there might be secret recording devices planted in the White House.
In a May 12 tweet, Trump sent a veiled warning to former FBI Director James Comey over Twitter, writing: "James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"
However, as he admitted on June 22, no such tapes exist.
"With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are 'tapes' or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings," he wrote.
Following the bombshell announcement, he offered a justification to "Fox & Friends," saying that he thought that the tapes might exist because others might have placed surveillance devices in the White House.
"I’ve been reading about it for the last couple of months about the seriousness of the horribleness of the situation with surveillance all over the place," said Trump. "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 Trump also hinted that the tweet was meant to influence Comey's testimony before Congress regarding possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election.
When host Ainsley Earhardt followed up, asking if Trump had suggested the existence of secret tapes to ensure that Comey "stayed honest in those hearings," Trump replied: "Well, it wasn’t very stupid, I can tell you that.”
"When [Comey] 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."
This isn't the first time Trump has lobbed surveillance accusations against his predecessor. In March, Trump went on Twitter to claim that then-President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 election campaign.
"How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during this very sacred election process," he wrote. "This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!"
Both the Senate Intelligence Committee and the FBI have denounced the claims and House Speaker Paul Ryan flatly said that "no such wiretap existed."
Press Secretary Sean Spicer later contended that Trump said he used the word "wiretap" loosely.
"The president used the word 'wiretap' in quotes to mean broadly surveillance and other activities," Spicer said.