WASHINGTON — President Trump threatened on Friday to retaliate against James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director he fired this week, if Mr. Comey leaks anything negative about the president and warned the news media that he may cancel all future White House briefings.
In a series of angry, early-morning tweets, Mr. Trump even seemed to suggest that there may be secret tapes of his conversations with Mr. Comey that could be used to counter the former F.B.I. director if necessary. It was not immediately clear if he meant that literally or simply hoped to intimidate Mr. Comey into silence.
“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.
Mr. Trump appeared agitated over news reports Friday that focused on contradictory accounts of his decision to fire Mr. Comey at the same time the F.B.I. is investigating ties between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.
The New York Times reported that in a dinner shortly after his inauguration, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey to pledge loyalty to him, which the F.B.I. director refused to do. The story cited two people who heard Mr. Comey describe the dinner but the White House refuted the account.
The president also expressed pique at attention on the shifting versions of how he came to decide to fire Mr. Comey. In his first extended comments on the firing on Thursday, Mr. Trump contradicted statements made by his White House spokeswoman as well as comments made to reporters by Vice President Mike Pence and even the letter the president himself signed and sent to Mr. Comey informing him of his dismissal.
The original White House version of the firing was that the president acted on the recommendation of the attorney general and deputy attorney general because of Mr. Comey’s handling of last year’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email. But in an interview with NBC News on Thursday, Mr. Trump said he had already decided to fire Mr. Comey and would have done so regardless of any recommendation. And he indicated that he was thinking about the Russia investigation when he made the decision.
Mr. Trump on Friday morning said that no one should expect his White House to give completely accurate information.
“As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!” he wrote on Twitter.
“Maybe,” he added a few moments later, “the best thing to do would be to cancel all future ‘press briefings’ and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???”
The threat may have been just a rhetorical point, but Mr. Trump is by his own description likes to be unpredictable and does not feel obligated to follow longstanding White House conventions simply because that is the way they have been done for years. Every president in modern times has been frustrated with the news media at points, but they all preserved the tradition of the daily briefing.