Trump threatens to cancel briefings for 'sake of accuracy'

Spicer added he was "not aware" of whether audio surveillance was conducted when Comey and Trump met for dinner at the White House on January 27.

The White House refusal to elaborate left open several questions: Was Trump, as his predecessor had in the 1970s, been covertly taping conversations?

Regarding Trump's possibly threatening tweet, Spicer insisted the president had merely stated "facts".

Mr Clapper also rejected Mr Trump's description of Mr Comey as a "grandstander" and a "showboat". The deal was widely reported at the time, including by The Associated Press.

Comey has not publicly discussed any conversations he has had with Trump.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders disputed the report and said the president would "never even suggest the expectation of personal loyalty". Trump said he would not talk about the existence of any tapes. In Florida, where the president frequently spends weekends, both parties must consent to recording.

Noted legal scholar Laurence Tribe told AFP that if Comey did indeed answer Trump s question, it would violate Department of Justice rules and "would be unthinkably unethical and unprofessional in this situation". Trump told NBC he had planned to fire Comey all along, regardless of whether top Justice Department officials recommended the stunning step.

It was not clear when Comey would speak for himself.

Rogers, an ex-FBI agent and former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has drawn the backing of the FBI Agents Association.

The face-to-face meeting between the president and the director raised other concerns.

Trump said in his brief statement about firing Comey on Tuesday that the FBI chief had told him three times that he was not under investigation in the Russian Federation probe.

"I think, in many ways, our institutions are under assault, both externally - and that's the big news here, is the Russian interference in our election system", said James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence.

"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 swirling controversy has obliterated any momentum from the House passage of the Republican health care bill last week and threatens to overshadow Trump's first global trip, beginning next week, in which the president will meet with leaders in both the Middle East and Europe.

Even before Trump's provocative tweet, the White House was scrambling to clarify why Comey was sacked.

"I said, 'If it's possible, would you let me know, am I under investigation?' He said you are not under investigation", Trump said in an interview Thursday with NBC News.

During the dinner, the president asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation director to pledge loyalty to him, the Times reported.

The White House initially cited a Justice Department memo criticizing Comey's handling of last year's investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails as the impetus for Trump's decision.

In his morning tweetstorm, Trump brought the issue back to Russian Federation, referring to the assertion by the former head of national intelligence that Trump was, to his knowledge, not colluding with Moscow. But he called Trump's tweet "inappropriate". He said, You are not under investigation, " Trump recounted, repeating an assertion made when the White House announced Comey s firing Tuesday. John Cornyn, South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, former Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers and former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

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