By Jordan Fabian and Jonathan Easley - 06-09-17 15:15 PM EDT
President Trump on Friday refused to say whether tapes exist of his conversations with fired FBI Director James Comey.
"I'll tell you about that maybe sometime in the near future," he told reporters during a White House news conference.
Trump added that reporters eager to learn about the existence of tapes would be "very disappointed" to find out the answer.
That provoked journalists to shout questions at the president about why he wouldn't reveal whether the tapes exist today. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis stood by at the joint Rose Garden press conference.
A week after Trump fired Comey last month, the president suggested over Twitter that he may have secretly recorded their private conversations.
Comey indicated during Senate testimony on Thursday that the tweet prompted him to leak personal memos he wrote that detail his encounters with Trump.
Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that Trump asked him to pledge "loyalty" in an effort to set up a "patronage relationship." Comey said Trump asked him to pull back on an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and to lift the "cloud" of suspicion over the White House by stating publicly that he is not the target of an FBI investigation.
In his testimony on Thursday, Comey repeatedly called Trump a liar and said he took personal notes because he was certain the president would lie about their encounters.
"Lordy, I hope there are tapes," Comey said.
Even some of Trump's staunchest allies, like Fox News anchor Sean Hannity, doubt the existence of the tapes, believing the president was using the specter of the recordings as leverage over Comey.
Trump refuted Comey's testimony at the Rose Garden press conference on Friday, saying he never asked for Comey's loyalty and that he never asked for leniency for Flynn.
Trump said he would be willing to refute Comey's testimony under oath before Congress or to special investigator Robert Mueller, potentially setting up a legal showdown.
The president also doubled down on his claim that Comey's testimony vindicated him, saying it showed "no collusion, no obstruction."
"He's a leaker, but we wanna get back to running our great country," Trump said.