Former director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. warned Sunday that the nation's institutions are being undermined by President Trump after his decision last week to fire FBI Director James B. Comey. Trump seemed to suggest that if Comey gave his version of contacts between them, the administration might produce tapes of conversations, although it was not clear if such tapes exist.
Then, 11 days before November's election, when Mr Comey dropped a bombshell, saying he had reopened the inquiry because new Clinton-related emails had been found.
Before he moved into the White House, President Trump often taped phone conversations inside his Manhattan office, it was reported Saturday.
He cited the director's handling of the FBI investigation into Hilary Clinton's emails but Democrats said the real reason was the separate investigation into Trump allies' links with Russian Federation.
Mr. Comey's associates said that the new president requested the dinner he described, and said that he was wary about attending because he did not want to appear too chummy with Mr. Trump, especially amid the Russian Federation investigation.
Whoever is selected for the position will face intense scrutiny from Democrats and Republicans and will be responsible for overseeing the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election, along with the typical responsibilities of managing an agency of over 35,000 employees.
"Let's say I did it on January 20, the opening, right, and that would have been the big story as opposed to the inauguration", Trump said.
Peter Goldberg, an Alaska committeeman, said Trump's latest tweets about Comey are "just a distraction" and that reaction to the firing is like "a bee buzzing around your head". His dismissal of a special prosecutor, Archibald Cox, who subpoenaed the White House for the president's tapes marked the beginning of the end of his presidency.
The president said he never pressured Comey into dropping the FBI investigation, and added that there was no "collusion between me and my campaign and the Russians".
"James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"
For a White House accustomed to bouts of chaos, Trump's handling of Comey's firing could have serious and long-lasting implications.
"Even that is possible", Mr Trump said. Trump also told reporters Saturday that all of the candidates under consideration are "outstanding", "very well-known" and at the "highest level". And while Trump praised chief of staff Reince Priebus after the House passed a health care bill last week, associates say the president has continued to raise occasional questions about Priebus' leadership in the West Wing. The investigation led to the discovery of Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
Different explanations have been given for Comey's firing, and the stories coming out of the Trump White House have changed each day since it happened. He said Mr Comey had requested the dinner because he wanted to keep his Federal Bureau of Investigation job.
The normally cautious Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr declared himself "troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey's termination".
Comey hasn't spoken publicly since he was sacked, but an associate said Trump's claims are puzzling, adding that Trump sought a loyalty pledge from Comey during the January 27 White House dinner, which the ex-director declined to give.