In a new interview, President Donald Trump accused the Obama administration of bugging the White House while defending his claims about the non-existent taped recordings of his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey.
While speaking with Fox and Friends‘ Ainsley Earhardt during the annual congressional picnic Thursday evening, the president – who was joined by First Lady Melania Trump – continued to walk back his previous insinuation that he’d recorded conversations with Comey.
“Well, I didn’t tape him,” said Trump, 71. “You never know what’s happening when you see that the Obama administration and perhaps longer than that was doing all this unmasking and surveillance and you read all about it and I’ve been reading about it for the last couple of months about the seriousness and horrible situation with surveillance all over the place.”
Trump’s claim was preposterous to Secret Service veterans, one of whom tells PEOPLE that the Secret Service’s Technical Security Division regularly sweeps the Oval Office for listening devices and anything else that might have been not-so-innocently left behind by any of the president’s visitors.
Waxing further on the subject, Trump told Earhardt, “So you never know what’s out there but I didn’t tape, I don’t have any tape and 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.”
“I’ve seen the tweet about tapes. Lordy I hope there are tapes,” Comey said.
Trump suggested to Fox and Friends that he had tweeted about the fake tapes in order to influence Comey’s testimony.
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“I mean, you’ll have to take a look at that because then he has to tell what actually took place at the events,” said the president. “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.”
Praised by Earhardt for what she dubbed a “smart” move, the president retorted, “Well, it wasn’t very stupid, I can tell you that. He did admit that what I said was right.”
Trump has previously leveled accusations at the Obama administration over surveillance, claiming in March that the former president wiretapped the Trump Tower ahead of the 2016 election.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer later claimed that Trump wasn’t directly blaming President Obama, but his whole administration, and added that “the president used the word ‘wiretaps’ in quotes to mean, broadly, surveillance and other activities.”