More than a month after intimating via Twitter that he might have tape recordings of conversations with former FBI Director James Comey, President Trump admitted that he did not have any such tapes, putting to rest a pointless tempest of his own making. According to Comey’s testimony, Trump’s initial tweet about “tapes” pushed him provide his memos to a friend to give to the press in the hopes that a Special Prosecutor would be appointed, which is what ultimately happened.
The House Intelligence Committee cannot produce a subpoena for the tapes—or anything else related to the Russia probe—without the approval of Chairman Devin Nunes, despite the fact Nunes handed over his chairman’s duties regarding the Russia probe to Representative K. Michael Conaway in early April. Representative Adam Schiff noted that Nunes “is still insisting on the sign-off on our subpoenas,” and that this is improper even though Nunes hasn’t yet turned down any requests.
The White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders conducted today's news briefing off camera and didn’t allow news outlets to air live audio, limiting public access to the session. Embattled Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the purpose of banning cameras from select briefings is to promote “a more substantive discussion about actual issues.” He told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham in an interview Wednesday that going off-camera cuts down on showboating by reporters who “want to become YouTube stars and ask some snarky question that's been asked eight times.” This is the 6th off-camera briefing and the Washington Post, looking at the major news events on those dates, notes that the main reason for the off-camera briefings seems to be to allow the administration to duck the spotlight.
Trump spoke for more than an hour to roughly 6,000 people at a campaign-style rally in Iowa last night, reveling in two special election victories for Republicans and bringing up ideas that were either unclear or outright falsehoods (such as solar panels on the proposed border wall with Mexico or the often-repeated falsehood that the US is one of the world’s highest-taxed countries). In addition to the solar panels—about which he said only that they pay for themselves—Trump also unveiled what he called a new proposal to prevent immigrants from receiving welfare benefits for five years (which existing law already does).