Trump threatens former FBI Director on twitter
DONALD Trump has threatened James Comey on Twitter, warning he may have something over him if he starts leaking to the press.
Mr Trump is under pressure in regards to sacking the former FBI director amid his agency's investigation into Russian ties to the Trump campaign and reportedly days after he asked for more resources for the probe.
When the story broke, White House Counsellor Kellyanne Conway, White House press secretary Sean Spicer and his deputy, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, all maintained that Mr Trump was acting on a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein when he sacked Mr Comey and that the president was unhappy with the director's handling of last year's Hillary Clinton email saga.
Mr Rosenstein was reportedly furious that Mr Comey's departure was placed at his feet, forcing Mr Trump to come out and say that he was planning on removing Mr Comey anyway.
Reports this morning from The New York Times state that Mr Trump asked Mr Comey to pledge his loyalty to him. Mr Comey declined to do so, saying he would always be honest with the president but wasn't "reliable" in a political sense.
Mr Spicer tried to shoot down claims that the president made that request, say Mr Trump "did not ask for his loyalty"
Meanwhile, former national intelligence director James Clapper said Mr Comey was uneasy about having dinner with Mr Trump.
He said Mr Comey was concerned about the "optics" of the January 27 dinner because he didn't want it to appear that the FBI was being directed by the White House and decided to go as a "professional courtesy".
"You're in a difficult position to refuse to go," Mr Clapper said of Mr Comey. "But I do know he was uneasy with it."
Mr Clapper also rejected Mr Trump's description of Mr Comey as a "grandstander" and a "showboat".
"I witnessed personally the very high esteem and respect people in the FBI have, and still have, for Jim Comey," he said.
Mr Clapper - who said in March that there was "no evidence" the Trump campaign collluded with Russia's election-meddling efforts - clarified his remarks overnight, saying "I don't know" if evidence exists.
Mr Comey has so far been silent on his sacking, except for an internal note to staff in which he said, "I'm not going to spend time on the decision or the way it was executed. I hope you won't either. It is done, and I will be fine."
Mr Comey reportedly learned of his sacking after seeing a breaking news alert at an event in which he was speaking.
Now, Mr Trump appears concerned about what Mr Comey might say about his removal.
He took to Twitter to warn, "James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press."
Mr Spicer said he was "not aware of any recording" that may exist from Mr Trump and Mr Comey's dinner.
James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
Mr Trump also backed his communications team, who many felt he had thrown under the bus, threatening to cancel daily media briefings and instead provide handwritten responses to questions.
As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
...Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future "press briefings" and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
"As a very active president with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!," he wrote. "Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future 'press briefings' and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???"
Despite the FBI, as well as Senate and House intelligence committees, conducting investigations into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, Mr Trump said it was a Democrat conspiracy.
Again, the story that there was collusion between the Russians & Trump campaign was fabricated by Dems as an excuse for losing the election.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
The Fake Media is working overtime today!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
"Again, the story that there was collusion between the Russians & Trump campaign was fabricated by Dems as an excuse for losing the election," he wrote. "The fake media is working overtime today!"
TRUMP'S LAWYERS REVIEW TAX RETURNS
Lawyers for Mr Trump said that a review of his last 10 years of tax returns did not reflect "any income of any type from Russian sources," but the letter included exceptions related to previously cited income generated from a beauty pageant and sale of a Florida estate.
The lawyers did not release copies of Mr Trump's tax returns, so they cannot be independently verified.
Their review also notably takes into account only Mr Trump's returns from the past 10 years, leaving open questions about whether there were financial dealings with Russia in earlier years.
Mr Trump has refused to release his income tax records, despite pressure from Democrats, breaking with a practice set by his predecessors.
The president has said he would release his returns when the Internal Revenue Service completes an audit.
The tax returns, the lawyers say, largely reflect income and interest paid by the web of corporate entities that made up The Trump Organisation prior to Mr Trump taking office.
In a letter released to the AP and dated March 8, the lawyers said there is no equity investment by Russians in entities controlled by Mr Trump or debt owed by Mr Trump to Russian lenders. But it did reflect some exceptions, including income from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant that was held in Moscow and a property sold to a Russian billionaire in 2008 for $US95 million ($129 million).
The White House said Mr Trump asked his lawyers for the letter to outline information on any ties Trump might have to Russia.
The letter was then provided to Senator Lindsey Graham.
Sen. Graham leads one of the congressional committees investigating Russia's interference in last year's election.
"I have no investments in Russia, none whatsoever," Mr Trump said in an interview with NBC News. "I don't have property in Russia. A lot of people thought I owned office buildings in Moscow. I don't have property in Russia."
The president said he "had dealings over the years," including the Miss Universe pageant and the sale of a home to "a very wealthy Russian."
"I had it in Moscow long time ago, but other than that I have nothing to do with Russia," he said, referring to the pageant.
The unnamed Russian billionaire cited by the Trump company's lawyers is Dmitry Rybolovlev, whose financial empire springs from his companies' production of potash, often used for fertiliser.
Originally published as 'Better hope there's no tapes'