The presidentâs Twitter messages on Thursday left open the possibility that the conversations may have been taped without his knowledge. But they largely confirmed the suspicions of outsiders that Mr. Trump had been leveling a baseless threat at Mr. Comey on May 12, when he wrote, âJames Comey better hope that there are no âtapesâ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!â
Some legal experts have said that Mr. Trumpâs threat could be used in an obstruction of justice case against him, since it could be interpreted as putting pressure on Mr. Comey not to discuss their conversations about the F.B.I.âs Russia investigation.
This month, Mr. Comey testified in detail about those conversations, saying the president had appealed to him on multiple occasions not to pursue an investigation of his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, and his alleged links to Russian officials.
Asked during the Senate hearing whether he worried about the existence of tapes, Mr. Comey replied, âLordy, I hope there are tapes.â
Mr. Trumpâs announcement, however expected, distracted from the released on Thursday of the Republican health care legislation in the Senate.
âThe presidentâs statement via Twitter is extremely clear,â said the deputy press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. âI donât have anything to add to the statement.â
Ms. Sanders said that Mr. Trump had promised to deliver an answer on the existence of the tapes by the end of the week, and that he had delivered on that promise. She also said she did not believe his intention in his original Twitter post about tapes had been to intimidate Mr. Comey.