Sen. Tim Scott: If tapes exist 'we should have that information'

GOP  U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, who filled Jim DeMint's seat, is on track to become South Carolina's first elected black Republican senator.

Story highlights

  • President Donald Trump made an apparent reference last week to taping conversations
  • This came after the President sacked FBI Director James Comey

(CNN)Republican Sen. Tim Scott said Monday that if tapes exist of President Donald Trump speaking privately with former FBI Director James Comey, then members of Congress should be able to review them.

"If there's any information that's out there, we should have that information," the South Carolina senator told CNN's Dana Bash at a "Politics on Tap" event in Washington.
    The President signaled he may have recorded his past talks with Comey, tweeting Friday that the now-former FBI director better "hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"
    If tapes do exist and the White House refuses to turn them over, Scott said he would be supportive of a subpoena. "I would be surprised if there isn't one," he said.
    Asked repeatedly Monday whether Trump was secretly taping conversations in the White House, the President's press secretary Sean Spicer avoided giving direct answers, saying over again that the President "would have nothing further on that."
    Scott also said he was not calling for a special prosecutor into alleged ties between Trump's campaign and Russian officials "at this point" -- and added that he has confidence in the current congressional committees that are conducting the investigations.
    The senator did not have a comment on a Washington Post report breaking Monday night that Trump disclosed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador last week at the White House.
    "I haven't seen the story, only the headlines," he said. "If it's accurate at all, we should take a look at it and seriously delve into the issues."
    Talking about the mood on Capitol Hill among Republicans, Scott said "there certainly is some volatility" and that "politically there's a lot to digest." He said the amount of news and the media coverage feels like "drinking from a fire hydrant at times" and creates a feeling of disorientation. But Scott expressed optimism that things would soon normalize.
    Asked about criticism that Republicans aren't standing up to Trump, Scott disagreed and said they are "absolutely" putting country ahead of party at times.
    As an example, he brought up his joint statement with Sen. Marco Rubio against Trump's initial travel ban executive order in January. The two Republican senators said they were "uneasy" with the ban, which barred citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries -- Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen -- from entering the US for 90 days, all refugees for 120 days and refugees from Syria indefinitely. The ban and its subsequent version have since been held up in court.
    Scott, a former member of the US House of Representatives, was appointed to the Senate in 2013 after then-Sen. Jim DeMint resigned. In 2014, he won a special election to complete the final two years of DeMint's term, and he won re-election to a full Senate term in 2016. As the only African-American Republican in the Senate and as someone who hails from the Deep South, Scott often jokes that he's a "unicorn."
    At the event, Scott took questions about his personal life. While he was once engaged, Scott is 51 and hasn't been married. The senator, as someone who grew up in poverty, said he wanted to make sure his mother was financially secure before he started his own family.
    That point didn't come until he was about 39, he said, and since then he's become comfortable with just dating. But he brought up former Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who got re-married at the age of 67. "I only have 15 good years left," he joked. "A late bloomer."
    Scott said he was also a late bloomer in academics. He got some laughs when he talked about failing civics, English, and Spanish in high school. "When you fail Spanish and English, no one calls you bilingual, they call you bi-ignant," he said.
    "Thank God for a powerful mom and amazing mentor who saw more in me than I could see in myself," he said.
    Scott also described his experiences going "undercover" in South Carolina, in which he would disguise himself and listen to constituents on the ground in their element. He shared stories about volunteering at a Goodwill, sweeping at a restaurant, and talking to people at a gas station.
    He said it's a mission that's getting more difficult to do and he does it "once in a blue moon."
    "It's a wonderful way to listen to real people talk about their lives," he said.