President Donald Trump on Friday denied telling former FBI director James Comey that he hoped that Comey would drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
“I didn’t say that,” he said. “I mean, I will tell you I didn’t say that. And there’d be nothing wrong if I did say that, according to everybody that I’ve read today.”
Trump also denied demanding loyalty from Comey and said he would be “100 percent” willing to make those statements under oath to a special prosecutor.
“No, I didn’t say that. And I didn’t say the other,” he said.
Comey had testified about the two exchanges before a Senate hearing on Thursday. The two men have now offered completely different accounts. Trump reacted to Comey’s comments in a news conference Friday afternooon with the president of Romania.
Trump, who has insinuated in the past that he has tapes of the encounters, was coy about it at the news conference.
“Well, I’ll tell you about that maybe sometime in the very near future,” he said.
Asked later if he was hinting that he did have tapes, he said, “I’m not hinting anything. I’ll tell you about it over a very short period of time.”
Asked exactly when he would reveal whether there are tapes, he repeated, “Over a fairly short period of time.”
Asked yet again if he did have tapes, Trump offered an opaque response.
“Oh, you’re going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer, don’t worry,” he said.
Trump also said Comey’s testimony “showed no collusion, no obstruction. We are doing really well. That was an excuse by the Democrats who lost an election that some people think they shouldn’t have lost.”
In his testimony, Comey would not venture an opinion on whether Trump’s behavior constituted obstruction of justice, saying it would be up for special counsel Robert Mueller to decide.
Mueller and two congressional committees are probing contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Comey testified that he believed, based on Trump’s own statements, that he had been fired because of the investigation he was leading at the FBI.
In a piece of good news for Trump, Comey also said in his testimony that Trump himself was not under investigation as of the time Comey was fired in early May.
Trump had claimed “total and complete vindication” early Friday morning on Twitter.
“Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication...and WOW, Comey is a leaker!” Trump wrote just after 6 a.m..
Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication...and WOW, Comey is a leaker!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2017
Trump referred to Comey as a leaker because Comey acknowledged during his testimony Thursday that, after his firing, he gave a written memo about one of his encounters with Trump to a friend and asked him to pass it along to a reporter. In recent weeks, Trump has repeated expressed frustration over the news leaks surrounding the FBI’s Russia investigation.Emily Sweeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.