Cyber Security James Clapper on Trump: US institutions are "under assault"

The denials came hours after Trump issued a warning to the FBI Director he fired days earlier: "James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"

Describing himself as a very active President, Trump explained that at time it become very hard for his surrogates to explain things with ideal accuracy to reporters at the news conference. "That would be ideal".

The other two times Trump said he asked Comey whether he was under investigation were in telephone conversations.

He tweeted that Mr Comey had "better hope there are no "tapes" of our conversations", suggesting such tapes, if they existed, might contradict him.

Apparently angered by criticism of the different accounts of the sacking, Mr Trump used another of his tweets on Friday to say: "As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with ideal accuracy!"

Trump's threat comes after multiple news outlets reported a conflicting account of the discussion Comey and Trump had during a dinner back in January, shortly after Trump's inauguration.

Politico reported that Comey declined the invitation. His position was backed up by the committee's ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff of California, who said that Trump should "immediately provide any such recordings to Congress or admit, once again, to have made a deliberately misleading - and in this case threatening - statement".

Comey had angered Democrats over his handling of the probe of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

Spicer was asked by NBC News' Kristen Welker about Clapper's statements.

Later, the president and his advisers said Trump had planned to fire Comey since taking office. "As I said for the third time, there is nothing further to add on that".

"White House briefings and press conferences provide substantive and symbolic opportunities for journalists to pose questions to officials at the highest levels of the USA government", said WHCA president Jeff Mason in a statement.

Mr Comey has not publicly discussed any conversations he had with Trump.

"As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with ideal accuracy!".

"President Trump definitely views the Comey firing as a communication failure".

The White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) has objected to any such move.

Tweeting this morning, Trump defended his press staff, stating he's so "active", "it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with ideal accuracy!.", with the implication that he may cancel White House press briefings. I think the process is going to go quickly. During an exclusive interview Thursday with NBC News' Lester Holt, Trump said he'd previously planned to fire the Federal Bureau of Investigation director - which conflicted with what staffers and surrogates previously told the media about Comey's surprise ouster.

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