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President Donald Trump (L) speaks in Ypilanti Township, Michigan, in March and FBI Director James Comey testifies in D.C. before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in May in a combination of file photos. Photos by Jonathan Ernst and Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Trump on Twitter: ‘I did not make, and do not have’ recorded conversations with Comey

After days of teasing he would answer the question of whether he had recorded conversations with ex-FBI Director James Comey, President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Thursday to say definitively that he “did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.”

“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,” the president wrote on Twitter.

The president first prompted discussions about such tapes when he tweeted in May that Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

The day before, The New York Times had published interviews with two unnamed Comey associates, who claimed that the president asked Comey for his “honest loyalty” during a private White House dinner. The existence of tapes prompted some to compare the situation to the Watergate hearings and the White House recordings that would undo Richard Nixon’s presidency. Nixon’s tapes eventually led to the 1974 Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act, which requires any recordings preserved as presidential records and eventually released to the public.

READ MORE: The complete Watergate timeline (it took longer than you realize)

After the suggestion of tapes on Twitter last month, neither the president nor his aides would not clarify whether such tapes actually existed.

In today’s press gaggles, White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president’s statement on Twitter “is extremely clear,” saying she didn’t have anything to add. Sanders also wouldn’t comment further on why it took more than 40 days for the president to directly address the tapes question.

When asked about Trump’s statements during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last month, Comey said “Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” suggesting that such evidence would support his detailed accounting of his interactions with Trump. Comey said the president told him he “hoped” the then-FBI director could “let go” of the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

If no tapes exist, “questions will be raised about why the president would stake his reputation and political capital on promoting something that just isn’t real,” the Associated Press wrote at the time.

READ MORE: President Trump’s tease of possible Comey tapes fits a familiar pattern

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