The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Monday requested that the White House hand over any records pertaining to President Donald Trump's firing of former FBI director James Comey amid investigations into alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election.
The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the U.S. Department of Justice, saying it was impossible to know the truth with the Trump administration's constantly-changing stories, "each of which is increasingly troubling."
"White House interference with any FBI investigation is incompatible with democratic safeguards, and that's especially the case when the investigation involves the president or his associates," said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU's National Security Project. "Political meddling with law enforcement investigations is a recipe for abuse of power."
Trump fired Comey early last week, reportedly on the recommendation of the Justice Department, although differing accounts say it came after Comey refused to pledge loyalty to the president. Trump later tweeted that the FBI director "better hope there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"
"The public has a right to know why Comey was fired so the president can be held accountable for any abuse of his position," Shamsi said Monday. "It's impossible to know the truth right now because the Trump administration has issued shifting explanations, each of which is increasingly troubling."
But the Trump administration has resisted it. Shortly after the civil liberties group filed its FOIA on Monday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters in a daily briefing that there was "frankly no need for a special prosecutor," and refused to confirm or deny whether any taped conversations between Trump and Comey existed.
"The president has made it clear what his position is," he said to one reporter.
"I was clear the president would have nothing further on that last week," he said to another.
As Spicer exited the briefing, leaving a pool of frustrated journalists behind him, CNN's Jim Acosta shouted, "Where are the 'tapes,' Sean?"