The White House press office had a stenographer in meetings with journalists
Trump tweeted to former FBI director James Comey that he "better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations
President Barack Obama did not record private meetings in the White House, a former White House official tells CNN.
“We obviously didn’t record private meetings,” the former official said. “The Obama White House didn’t secretly record private meetings”
The White House press office had a stenographer in meetings with journalists in order to have an independent transcript of the interviews, a common practice, the former official said.
“None of that was hidden,” the former official said. “The stenographer sat in interviews with a tape recorder and sometimes even a boom mic – the same stenographers would tape and transcribe press briefings and gaggles. Journalists who interviewed President Obama would have been familiar with that.”
On Friday, President Donald Trump tweeted a warning to former FBI director James Comey, whom he fired earlier in the week, saying he “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press.”
The President’s controversial tweet about Comey and ‘tapes’ isn’t the first time he has leveled remarks on the subject of having private conversations monitored.
In a series of early morning tweets in March, Trump accused Obama of tapping the phones in Trump Tower at the tail end of the election, saying in one message: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
When asked to clarify Trump’s tweet about Comey on Friday afternoon, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the tweet was “not a threat,” but he did not rule out the possibility that the President is taping his calls.
“The President has nothing further to add on that,” Spicer said. “The tweet speaks for itself.”
Trump also refused to elaborate on the tweet when asked about it in an interview on Fox News.
“That I can’t talk about,” he said. “I won’t talk about that.”
“All I want is for Comey to be honest,” Trump added. “And I hope he will be. And I’m sure he will be – I hope.”
A source tells CNN that the former FBI director is “not worried about any tapes” of conversations between him and the President.
If Trump is recording his conversations in the Oval Office, he would appear to be the first president to do so since Richard Nixon.
CNN’s Chris Cillizza, Pamela Brown and Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.