Robert Gehl reports that lawmakers called on President Donald Trump to turn over any tapes he had of conversations with former FBI Director James Comey.
The scenario sets up a showdown with the White House as Democrats have vowed to boycott any vote on a Comey replacement.
This all started when Trump suggested on Twitter that he might have tapes of the conversations between himself and Comey – a highly unusual move. His suggestion came in a form of a warning not to talk to the media.
Following the tweet, the White House refused to confirm or deny the existence of any “tapes.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham said President Trump needs to “clear the air” about whether or not there are any tapes.
“You can’t be cute about tapes. If there are any tapes of this conversation, they need to be turned over,” Graham told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.
Utah Sen. Mike Lee, another Republican, told Fox News that it was “inevitable” that the White House would receive a subpoena for the tapes and they would have to release them.
Lee also said that taping White House conversations is “not necessarily the best idea.”
Whether or not it was the intention, Trump’s “tapes” tweet has intensified cries from Democrats for an independent investigation of Russian meddling in the November election, Reuters reports.
Republican leaders in the Senate have rebuffed calls for a special prosecutor, saying it would interfere with ongoing congressional probes.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Trump must immediately provide Congress with any tapes and warned that destroying existing tapes would violate the law.
Schumer also said Senate Democrats are weighing whether to refuse to vote on a new FBI director until a special prosecutor is named to investigate Trump’s potential ties to Russia.
Russia has denied the claims and the White House says there was no collusion.
“To have that special prosecutor, people would breathe a sigh of relief because then there would be a real independent person overlooking the FBI director,” Schumer told CNN’s “State of the Union” program.
In a poll of the American people on the Comey firing, 29 percent approve of the decision and 38 percent disapprove.