After 41 days of implying he had tapes that would challenge former FBI chief James Comey's account of their interactions and calls, yesterday, Trump, with his usual eloquence and class, denied--on Twitter, of course--that he had any such tapes,
Why did he tweet now? Do you recall that House Intelligence Committee gave the White House until today, Friday, either to turn over the tapes or to acknowledge there weren't any? So, the bird tweeted because it was Squeezed. Trump faced a deadline today.
As to content: Is he telling the truth? If so, was his earlier tweet just an attempt to intimidate or harass a witness?
Here are the reactions of two members of the House Intelligence Committee to Trump's tweet as an official answer to their questions to him about the existence of tapes:
"We have to have an official statement; tweets aren't official," said Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-Tex.), who is running the House Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Until they get that official response, Conaway said, he would not comment on whether a subpoena may still be issued.
He added that it was "good for to clarify" his position and that "you always take the president at his word — until it's proven otherwise."
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the intelligence panel, also said the president's tweet was not sufficient.
"We'd all like to believe that our president can be trusted when he says something; regrettably, though, he has repeatedly proved otherwise," Schiff said. "If this is meant to constitute his answer to the House investigation, then it needs to be fully truthful.… If the president is being less than candid about this, I think we have very serious problems with the White House."
Schiff said that even if he accepts the president's assertion that the tapes do not exist, he has questions about "why he would have said the opposite to begin with."
"Was this an effort to intimidate James B. Comey? Was this an effort to silence James B. Comey?" Schiff asked. "Those questions still need to be answered."
Schiff said he will continue to ask witnesses who come before the committee if they are aware of the existence of tapes and said he will consult with Conaway before deciding whether a subpoena is still in order.
To conclude, it seems, as Rep. Conaway said, "you always take the president at his word — until it's proven otherwise."
Sounds to me like no one, not even members of the House Intelligence Committee, will be too surprised when "otherwise" is in full view.
For some of us, it already is. This man who occupies the White House is a liar.
June 23, 2017
Addendum. FYI, It seems the House Intelligence Committee still cannot produce a subpoena for the tapes — or anything else related to the Russia probe — without the approval of Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). According to Adam Schiff, that arrangement continues, despite the fact Nunes handed over his chairman's duties regarding the Russia probe to Conaway in early April.
"The chair is still insisting on the sign-off on our subpoenas," Schiff told reporters. "That shouldn't be happening."
Schiff added that Nunes had not yet turned down any subpoena requests from investigators but stressed that Conaway should have the final word on subpoenas related to the Russia investigation.
You may recall Nunes stepped away from the lead in the Russia investigation after failing to pass the scrutiny of the House Ethics Committee. Democrats and outside groups had accused Nunes of coordinating with the White House to throw the House Intelligence Committee's investigation off course by alleging that the identity of a surrogate of the president, or potentially the president himself, might have been improperly revealed in a surveillance report.
The source of the quotations in this article is the Washington Post, June 22, 2017.