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Sean Spicer Denies Trump Tweet Was a Threat to James Comey

Variety logo Variety 5/12/2017 Ted Johnson
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White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer denied that President Donald Trump’s tweet — warning fired FBI Director James Comey about leaks of their conversations — was a “threat.”

“That is not a threat. He is simply stating fact. The tweet speaks for itself,” Spicer said.

On Friday morning, Trump tweeted that “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” It was his latest comment on the fallout from his decision to fire Comey on Tuesday.

Jeff Mason of Reuters, who is president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, asked if Trump recorded his conversations with Comey.

“I have talked to the president, the president has nothing further to add on that,” Spicer said. He gave the same answer when Mason asked if there were recording devices in the Oval Office or the residence.

Spicer returned to the press briefing even though it was announced on Wednesday that he would be away on reserve duty for the rest of the week. That has led to speculation that Trump is considering replacing him. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the deputy press secretary, filled in for him.

Spicer also addressed Trump’s Twitter posts suggesting that “As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy. … 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 declined to say whether canceling briefings was a real possibility.

He explained that Trump was “dismayed” that at press briefings, “we see time and time again” how the media is trying to “parse every word.” He said because Trump is an “activist” president, the press office staff does not always get into see him before the briefing.

The WHCA issued a statement earlier in the day, saying, “Doing away with briefings would reduce accountability, transparency, and the opportunity for Americans to see that, in the U.S. system, no political figure is above being questioned. The White House Correspondents’ Association would object to any move that would threaten those constitutionally-protected principles.”

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