- Thomson Reuters
The chairman and ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday threatened to use their subpoena power to obtain any tapes or recordings that exist of President Donald Trump’s conversations with former FBI Director James Comey.
Trump tweeted on May 12, three days after firing Comey, that the former FBI director “better hope there aren’t tapes” of their meetings. He issued the veiled warning shortly after The New York Times reported that Trump had asked Comey in February to drop the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
On June 9, the House Intelligence Committee asked the White House “to tell the Committee whether any recordings, memoranda, or other documents memorializing President Trump’s conversations with former FBI Director Comey exist or ever existed – and, if they did exist, to produce copies of such materials to the Committee.”
The committee is investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow to undermine Hillary Clinton.
The White House responded to the committee’s letter, however, by asking the lawmakers to refer to Trump’s tweets on June 22.
“With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are ‘tapes’ or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings,” Trump tweeted then.
Committee Chair Rep. Mike Conaway, a Republican, and ranking Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff are now saying Trump’s tweets are not enough, and that the committee will consider “using compulsory process” – in other words, issuing a subpoena – to get a clearer response.
“The President’s statement on Twitter, and the White House’s letter referring to the President’s statement, were only partially responsive to the Committee’s request,” they said. “By only referring to the President’s statement, the White House’s letter stops short of clarifying for the Committee whether the White House has any responsive recordings, memoranda, or other documents.”
They added: “Today’s letter from the Committee makes clear that should the White House not to respond fully, the Committee will consider using compulsory process to ensure a satisfactory response.”
Rep. Eric Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told Business Insider that the committee’s chairman, Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, would “technically” have to sign off on any such subpoena requests.
Nunes stepped aside from the Russia investigation in early April after bypassing his fellow committee members the month before to brief Trump and the press on classified intelligence that he said showed Trump and his transition team had been “incidentally” surveilled after the election.