The White House on Friday denied that President Donald Trump threatened ousted Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey with “secret tapes”. “That’s not a threat. He simply stated a fact. The tweet speaks for itself,” said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, according to BBC.

The statement from White House comes after Trump tweeted, “James Comey better hope no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press.” Comey was abruptly fired on May 9.

However, Spicer dodged questions whether the White House recorded the conversation between Trump and Comey. “I’m not aware of that,” Spicer said when asked about taped conversation between the former FBI director and the US president on January 27.

Meanwhile Democratic lawmakers have urged White House to reveal if such tape existed. “President Trump should release the tapes he referred to and come clean on the real reasons why Director Comey was abruptly fired in the midst of a critical investigation,” said Congressman Joe Crowley, adding that Trump owes an explanation to Americans on why he tweeted such a threat.

The move to fire Comey while the Russia-Trump campaign ties investigation is under way has led Democrats to call for an independent probe into the matter. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin said the White House needs to clarify whether the investigation would continue without Comey. “Any attempt to stop or undermine this FBI investigation would raise grave constitutional issues.”

Comey was fired purportedly because of his handling of the Hillary Clinton emails controversy. He had also been leading an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. However, a letter informing Comey of his dismissal did not state exactly why he was being fired, merely saying he was “not able to effectively lead the Bureau”.

In his short tenure as president, Trump has let go of several key faces in his administration. In February, Trump had shunted out his National Security Advisor Mike Flynn after reports emerged that he had discussed the country’s sanctions with Russian officials. In January, less than two weeks after assuming office, Trump had fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates for defying his first executive order banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.