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‘It Wasn’t Very Stupid.’ Read Exactly What Trump Said About His Comey ‘Tapes’ Tweet

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Updated: | Originally published: ;

President Donald Trump on Friday shed new light on why he apparently bluffed about having recordings of his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey, suggesting for the first time that a Twitter post about “tapes” was meant to influence Comney’s public comments about his firing.

In the interview that aired Friday morning on Fox News, Trump indicated that, by threatening to release recordings of their encounters, he was trying to make sure Comey was honest about what they had discussed. He seemed to be referring in particular to the fact that he had wanted Comey to publicly say he was not personally under FBI investigation, which Comey did indeed confirm in congressional testimony after Trump’s tweet suggesting he had tapes. Trump conceded on Thursday that he doesn’t have any such recordings.

During the course of the interview, Trump wrongly implied that he and his Administration have relayed a consistent rationale for why Trump fired Comey, when in fact officials, including Trump, have offered shifting explanations. He also implied Comey’s story changed following Trump’s tweet, but it’s not clear what he would be referring to, as Comey has been consistent in his public remarks.

Here’s exactly what Trump said:

Trump: I didn’t tape, but when he found out that there may be tapes out there, whether it’s governmental tapes or anything else, and who knows, I think his story may have changed. You’ll have to take a look at that. Because then 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.

Fox: That was a smart way to make sure he stayed honest in his hearings.

Trump: Well, it wasn’t very stupid, I can tell you that. He did admit that what I said was right. And if you look further back before he heard about that, I think maybe he wasn’t admitting that. So you’ll have to do a little investigative reporting to determine that. But I don’t think it’ll be that hard.

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Write to Tessa Berenson at tessa.Rogers@time.com