White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Friday denied that President Donald Trump tried to intimidate James Comey by tweeting about “tapes” of their conversations—which the President has since said he doesn’t actually possess—even as he claimed the tweet forced the former FBI director to “tell the truth.”
“Quite the opposite,” Spicer said in an interview on Fox News, when asked if intimidation was Trump’s intention. “I think the President made it very clear that he wanted the truth to come out. He wanted everyone to be honest about this and he wanted to get to the bottom of it and I think he succeeded in doing that.”
Rather than calling the tactic intimidation, Spicer went on to say that the President tweeted “Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” in order to force the former FBI director to tell the truth about their interactions.
“The reality is that he wanted to make sure the truth came out and by talking about something like tapes it made people have to—made Comey in particular think to himself, ‘I’d better be honest, I’d better tell the truth about the circumstances regarding the situation,’” Spicer said.
Spicer claimed the tactic had been successful, noting Comey testified under oath that he told Trump that the President wasn’t under investigation personally.
“He had been honest and told the President on three separate occasions that the President wasn’t under investigation and what we know now is there was no collusion and the only person who actually leaked was, in fact, Director Comey,” he said.
On an unrelated note, when asked about reports of a switch-up in the White House communications department that could see him stepping away from the briefing podium and into a more administrative role, Spicer said, “I wouldn’t read everything that you see in some of the Washington-based publications.”
“We continuing to fight hard for the President’s message, agenda and priorities and we’ll continue to do that every day,” he said.