WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Sean Spicer sought Monday to shut down questioning over the existence of tapes that President Donald Trump said he may have of conversations with ousted FBI Director James Comey.
“I made it clear last week that the president has nothing further on that,” the spokesman told reporters, using variations of the statement to stonewall each new, related query.
“The president has made it clear what his position is,” he said when asked if Trump surreptitiously records conversations and how officials could feel comfortable with the possibility.
“I was clear the president would have nothing further on that last week,” Spicer said when asked whether Trump would deny requests from Capitol Hill to turn over any tapes.
Trump and his aides have not elaborated on a tweet he sent Friday warning Comey against leaks, though lawmakers from both parties have called on the president to release any tapes.
“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” he posted.
Trump told reporters at an unrelated Oval Office event that the search for a new FBI director was “moving quickly.”
Spicer said the process was being headed by the Department of Justice and names would be submitted to the president.
Comey’s dismissal one week ago stunned Washington, D.C., with the fallout compounded as Trump, Pence and aides offered contradicting versions on the events leading up the ouster.
Comey was in the midst of a probe into Kremlin influence over last year’s election. The administration has said the FBI will continue it without him.
Democrats have demanded that an independent prosecutor take up the work, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) renewed the call Monday.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from probes involving Russia, now plays a role in determining the next FBI leader, Schumer said on the Senate floor.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who recommended Comey’s firing, will brief the full Senate Thursday on last week’s events, Schumer said.
Spicer said Trump fired Comey anticipating backlash.
“He knew that what he did could be detrimental to himself, it could lengthen the investigation, but he knew it was the right thing for the country,” he said.