President Trump said Wednesday that he doesn't recall asking the acting director of the FBI about how he voted in the 2016 election, nor does he think such a question would be a "big deal."
Trump was responding to a report a day earlier in the Washington Post, which cited several unnamed officials who said the president asked Andrew McCabe about his 2016 vote during an Oval Office meeting that followed the of firing FBI Director James Comey. That move elevated McCabe, then a deputy director at the FBI, to acting director.
The McCabe report on Tuesday raised questions about whether the president, who reportedly demanded and failed to get a loyalty pledge from Comey, had tried to determine the loyalties of more than just one high-ranking official.
But Trump Wednesday said he doesn't "remember asking him the question."
"I don't think I did," Trump said during a conversation with reporters. "I don't know what's the big deal with that. Because I would ask you, who did you vote for? I don't think it's a big deal, but I don't remember that."
The president added: "I think it's a very unimportant question. But I don't remember asking the question."
The unnamed officials who spoke with the Post said McCabe, who found the president's question "disturbing," told Trump he didn't cast a vote.
The president also reportedly "vented his anger" at McCabe over campaign contributions made to his wife's failed Virginia state senate bid. The contributions came from a political action committee overseen by a friend of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the Post reported.
On Wednesday, Trump doubled down on his complaints about those contributions, saying that the donor, Terry McAuliffe, "is Hillary."
When asked if Trump regrets having McCabe as his acting FBI director, the president responded, "I keep out of it."
McCabe later returned to his position as deputy director after Christopher Wray took over the FBI's top job in August.
The conversation about McCabe's vote also reportedly bothered other officials at the FBI, the Post reported.
The White House did not respond to BuzzFeed News' questions about the reported conversation. However, on Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders did not deny that the conversation happened, saying the two men had had "limited and non-substantive conversations."
"I can't get into the details of what was discussed," Sanders continued. "I wasn't there. There are widespread reports of his retirement."
The FBI declined to comment on the situation Wednesday.
News of the conversation came amid special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Mueller has interviewed multiple former and current Trump administration officials, and the investigation reportedly is zeroing in on whether Trump committed obstruction of justice.
Mueller is also interested in the conversation between Trump and McCabe, according to an official who spoke with the Post.
Trump has been openly critical of McCabe, including in December when he tweeted about McCabe's wife, as well as the FBI official's pending retirement.
Asked on Friday, if Trump believed McCabe should step down, Sanders said she hadn't directly asked the president that question, but added that he has respect for members of the FBI, as well as "a great deal of confidence" in current director Christopher Wray.
"I know the president has complete confidence in Director Wray and his ability to determine if there are any issues and to make those decisions," she said.