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|New York Daily News||-|
WASHINGTON - White House press secretary Sean Spicer repeatedly refused to say if President Trump secretly taped his dinner conversation with former FBI Director James Comey on Friday, after Trump himself suggested he had.
"I've talked to the President. The President has nothing further to add on that," Spicer said during his daily press briefing on Friday.
"As I mentioned, the President has nothing further to add on that," he said when pressed on whether Trump had recorded Comey.
Spicer said he wasn't "aware" of anyone in the White House who has a recording of the dinner while refusing to answer questions about whether Trump is actually recording his meetings.
Trump likely bluffing on taped Comey conversations, experts say
And he dismissed questions on whether Trump was threatening Comey.
"That's not a threat. He simply stated a fact," he said.
That seems to be reacting to a New York Times story that at that dinner Trump repeatedly asked Comey to pledge his loyalty and Comey demurred, an account that's markedly different from Trump's own comments in a Thursday interview that Comey had told him he wasn't under FBI investigation.
Spicer also denied that story.
The press secretary hadn’t been at the lectern for the past two days. According to the White House, that’s because he was serving on Navy Reserve duty. But that sudden break came after he made a number of statements about the timeline and details of Trump’s firing of Comey that didn’t match Trump’s own version of events. That includes his Tuesday night declaration that the firing was “a DOJ decision” rather than Trump’s. That matches comments from Vice President Mike Pence — but not what Trump himself had to say when he declared in a Wednesday interview that he would have fired Comey with or without a recommendation from the Department of Justice.
Both he and deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders were put in a tough spot by Trump’s own evolving story over the last few days, struggling to reconcile what they’d seemingly been told earlier (and Trump’s own letter to Comey saying he'd taken the advice of the DOJ to fire him) with Trump’s Wednesday comments.
“As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!” the president tweeted. “Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future 'press briefings' and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???”
Spicer couldn’t explain the discrepancies between his own comments and Trump’s on Friday, refusing to offer a timeline when a Time reporter and the Daily News pressed him on how he’d wound up misrepresenting his boss’ views Tuesday night.
While arguing the press team works hard “to do the best job we can communicating what the President’s done” earlier in the briefing, he attacked reporters’ attempts “to parse every little word and make it a game of gotcha as opposed to trying to figure out what the policies are.”
Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, who served in President George W. Bush’s administration, told the Daily News that Trump was putting his entire team in an impossible situation with his impulsive moves and inconsistent statements.
“The vice president, Sean and everyone else was put into a terrible spot, they don’t know what to say because it was an impulsive decision,” he said, calling the rollout of Comey’s firing “a very badly mishandled announcement” that was Trump’s fault, not his staff’s.