President Trump’s alluding Friday to having taped his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey has already propelled the purported talks to the top of WikiLeaks’ wish list.
The anti-secrecy website on Friday said it’s willing to pay $100,000 for the “tapes” referenced by the president this week in the wake of Mr. Comey’s unexpected dismissal Tuesday as the federal government’s top investigator.
“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Mr. Trump tweeted Friday morning.
“If there are—you know where to send them,” WikiLeaks replied with a link to its online submission form.
Mr. Trump’s ominous tweet Friday morning added a new layer of intrigue to his sudden termination of Mr. Comey this week roughly one-third of the way through the latter’s 10-year term atop the FBI.
The White House on Tuesday said Mr. Comey was fired over his handling of the federal investigation involving Mr. Trump’s former rival, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and her use of a private email server while secretary of state.
On Thursday, however, Mr. Trump told NBC News his decision was driven by the ongoing FBI probe into his own 2016 campaign and allegations of Russian collusion.
“And, in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said: ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won,’” he said.
The New York Times has since reported that the president asked Mr. Comey to pledge his loyalty during a private dinner in January, but was instead only assured of his “honesty.”
Mr. Trump has acknowledged speaking to Mr. Comey three times in total since taking office in January, including the one-on-one dinner reported by the Times, and indicated the possibility of tape-recorded copies existing during Friday morning’s Twitter tirade.
“The tweet speaks for itself,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters afterwards. “There’s nothing further to add on that.”
The U.S. intelligence community previously concluded that the Russian government interfered in last year’s White House race by using state-sponsored hackers to infiltrate Democratic targets and steal sensitive correspondence later published online by WikiLeaks and others prior to Mr. Trump’s election.
Mr. Trump praised WikiLeaks for those disclosures while campaigning, but has since signaled support for prosecuting the website’s publisher, Julian Assange, for earlier leaks involving classified U.S. government and military documents.