Trump's shifting reason for firing Comey could cost him with Hill leaders

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President Donald Trump implied on Friday that he may have recorded conversations with former FBI Director James Comey.

In the news briefing Friday afternoon, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he had spoken to Mr. Trump and the president had nothing further to add on the tapes tweet.

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.

The White House has said Comey's firing was unrelated to the Russian Federation probe, but in the interview with NBC News on Thursday, Trump said he knew he ran the risk that by firing Comey he would "confuse people" and "lengthen out the investigation" into ties to Russian Federation.

The White House initially said Trump fired Comey on the recommendation of the top Justice Department officials: Attorney-General Jeff Sessions and deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein. Amid conflicting accounts of the Comey firing, Trump also suggested canceling White House news briefings and said it may be better to provide written responses to questions. Instead deputy Sarah Huckabee Sanders made the rounds on morning news programs and conducted daily news briefings.

Trump said he would have fired Comey even if Rosenstein had not recommended it.

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"All I want is for Comey to be honest and I hope he will be and I'm sure he will be - I hope", he said. That's according to two people familiar with the search process who weren't authorized to publicly discuss the deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity. In an interview on Thursday with NBC News, the president said Comey gave him this assurance during a dinner and in two phone conversations.

Fellow Republican Lindsay Graham of SC, speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press", said Trump now "has a duty and obligation to pick somebody beyond reproach outside the political lane" to lead the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"I love the FBI", Trump said, when asked whether firing Comey had anything to do with an ongoing probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

The president is reported to have asked Comey whether he could be loyal to him during a dinner meeting in February shortly after his inauguration. The changing rationales the White House offered added an element of chaos to the president's action. But Trump on Thursday acknowledged for the first time that the Russian Federation investigation - which he dismissed as a "made-up story" - was also on his mind as he ousted the man overseeing the probe.

He increasingly sees himself as the White House's only effective spokesman and has even floated the idea of ending press briefings entirely in a move that has anxious even Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, usually a vocal supporter of the president.

Already Mr Trump's decision appears to have emboldened the Senate intelligence committee investigating Russia's election interference and the president's associates, with lawmakers announcing a subpoena for former national security adviser Michael Flynn. If so, we request copies of all recordings in possession of the White House regarding this matter'.

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