Six weeks after suggesting, via Twitter, that there might have been tapes of his conversations with James Comey, President Donald Trump claimed last week that he “didn’t tape” the ousted FBI director.
“I didn’t tape him,” Trump said during an interview with Fox News. “You never know what’s happening when you see that the Obama administration, and perhaps longer than that, was doing all of unmasking and surveillance and you read all about it and I’ve been reading about it for the last couple of months about the seriousness of it and the horrible situation with surveillance all over the place. You’ve been hearing the word unmasking, a word you probably never heard before. So you never know what’s out there. But I didn’t tape. I don’t have any tape. And I didn’t tape.”
Responded John Oliver on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight: What the f— was that?”
The late-night host, who has woven bashing Trump into the fabric of his HBO show, added, “Whenever Trump talks, it’s like a cross between a lottery machine that spits out words and a Speak & Spell that just fell into a toilet.”
Back on May 12, Trump tweeted, “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” (It remains unclear why the president put quotes around the word “tapes.”) Asked about the president’s tweet during his testimony in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this month, Comey said, “Lordy, I hope there are tapes.”
But speaking on Fox News, Trump suggested that the tweet forced Comey to change his story. “When he found out that maybe there were tapes out there, whether it’s governmental tapes or anything else and who knows? I think his story may have changed,” Trump said in the interview. “You’ll have to take a look at that. Because he has to tell what actually took place at the events. My story didn’t change. My story was always a straight story. My story was always the truth. But you’ll have to determine for yourself whether or not his story changed. But I did not tape.”
Told by the Fox News anchor that Trump’s threatening tweet was a smart move, the president added, “Well, it wasn’t very stupid, I can tell you that.”
An incredulous Oliver explained why Trump’s remarks were off-base on Sunday. “He didn’t just casually admit to misleading the American public. He also implied that doing so may have swayed Comey’s testimony which, if that was his intent, could constitute witness tampering,” Oliver explained. “And on top of all that, he then implied he made Comey tell the truth about their conversations, seemingly verifying Comey’s account which is incredibly damaging to the president. So, yeah, Trump might actually be right: it wasn’t very stupid, it was extraordinarily stupid.”
Watch the full segment via HBO.