President Donald Trump did not ask fired FBI Director James Comey to pledge loyalty to him, the White House says.
Press secretary Sean Spicer rejected media reports that Donald Trump sounded out James Comey at a private White House dinner in January.
According to the New York Times, James Comey said he would offer the president honesty, but not loyalty.
PresidentTrump has faced a backlash for dismissing Director Comey on May 9.
The FBI probe and parallel congressional investigations into alleged Russian political meddling, and whether any Trump campaign officials colluded with the Kremlin, have dogged his young presidency.
The search for a new FBI director is beginning on May 13, with four possible candidates being interviewed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
In yesterday’s daily briefing, Sean Spicer refused to comment on questions about whether President Trump had been making surreptitious recordings in the White House.
Donald Trump tweeted hours earlier that James Comey had “better hope there are no tapes” of their conversations.
Sean Spicer denied the tweet was a threat.
“The president has nothing further to add on that,” he told reporters repeatedly when pressed about the post.
“The tweet speaks for itself.”
However, James Comey believes “if there is a tape, there is nothing he is worried about”, a source told CNN.
Donald Trump’s comments provoked fresh comparisons between his administration and that of disgraced President Richard Nixon, who famously recorded conversations, speeding his downfall during the Watergate scandal.
The top Democrats on the House judiciary and oversight committees wrote to the White House on May 12 demanding copies of any recordings.
John Conyers and Elijah Cummings’ letter noted “it is a crime to intimidate or threaten any potential witness with the intent to influence, delay or prevent their official testimony”.
James Comey has declined an invitation to testify to the Senate Intelligence Committee on May 16.
President Trump told NBC News that James Comey requested the one-on-one dinner, but the former FBI director reportedly maintains it was the president who invited him.
James Comey had said he was “uneasy” before the dinner, according to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
James Clapper told MSNBC on May 12 that he had spoken to James Comey before the White House meal.
The FBI chief had confided he was concerned it might compromise his Trump-Russia inquiry, said James Clapper.
President Trump has said James Comey told him three times he was not a target of the FBI inquiry, fuelling accusations the president was interfering in the investigation.
Still chafing at media coverage of the firing, President Trump tweeted on May 12: “Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future <<press briefings>> and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???”
Sean Spicer said the president was a “little dismayed” that his press team’s attempts to give out information were being turned into a “game of gotcha” by the media.
President Trump doubled down in an interview with Fox News by threatening to hold the press briefings only once a fortnight, with himself at the podium.
“Unless I have them every two weeks and I do them myself, we don’t have them,” he said.
“I think it’s a good idea. First of all, you have a level of hostility that’s incredible and it’s very unfair.”