Trump tapes?

Donald Trump has at best made a threat to James Comey about tapes that don’t exist – a trumped up threat. But if as he implied he taped a conversation between himself and the then FBI director then Trump has created a bigger problem for himself.

It was resistance to hand over tapes that got Richard Nixon into a lot of trouble – for a recap of Watergate see Five Reasons the Comey Affair Is Worse Than Watergate. That points out “It’s always the cover-up, never the crime”.

Trump isn’t at that stage yet but is digging a hole furiously (intended double meaning).

RealClear Politics: Trump Creates Tempest With Tweet About ‘Tapes’

Has President Trump secretly taped conversations in the White House?

Few in Washington would have thought to raise that question at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on Friday, but the president raised the possibility in a tweet aimed at former FBI Director James Comey.

Adding to the intrigue, especially among Democratic lawmakers who asked the White House for explanations, were a string of non-denial, “No comment” answers offered by Trump and his spokesman.

During a week in which some observers likened Trump’s behavior to Richard Nixon, whose abuses of power were captured by a secret taping system that eventually led to his resignation, the president’s mention of “tapes” and then his refusal to deny taping people in the White House was stunning.

“Well, that I can’t talk about. I won’t talk about that,” the president told interviewer Jeanine Pirro of Fox News, known as Judge Jeanine. “All I want is for Comey to be honest. And I hope he will be. I’m sure he will be. I hope.”

“The president has no further comment,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicertold reporters. “The tweet speaks for itself.”

Was the president trying to threaten the man he fired on Tuesday to keep silent? “That’s not a threat,” Spicer said.

But people who may matter don’t see it that way.

Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which is investigating the Russia connections to last year’s election, called Trump’s tweet “extraordinary.”

“If the president has `tapes’ of his conversations with Director Comey, it is because the president himself made them. For a president who baselessly accused his predecessor of illegally wiretapping him, that Mr. Trump would suggest that he, himself, may have engaged in such conduct is staggering,” he said in a statement.

“The president should immediately provide any such recordings to Congress or admit, once again, to have made a deliberately misleading – and in this case threatening – statement,” he added.

Democratic Reps. John Conyers of the House Judiciary Committee and Elijah Cummings of the House Oversight panel said Trump’s rhetoric, tweets and reported actions “raise the specter of possible intimidation and obstruction of justice.” They asked the White House to respond by May 25 to describe the existence of any secret tapes, a taping system and copies of audio recordings.

But they are Democrats and may be thwarted by Republicans.

Trump is well known to have taped conversations as a businessman, but there is concern he has continued those practices as president.

As a New York businessman, Trump was accustomed to safeguarding his public relations and legal interests by taping interchanges with the consent of other parties, including some who taped him simultaneously. Whether Trump imported that practice to his presidency was left unclear on Friday.

Litigious himself, and familiar with being the target of litigation, Trump did not want his words mischaracterized or invented. Taping conversations became a showy form of insurance.

Biographer Gwenda Blair, speaking with RealClearPolitics, recalled that Trump “routinely pulled out his own tape recorder when being interviewed by reporters, including me.”

“I had a tape recorder, but the implication was this was a precaution to make double sure I quoted him accurately,” said Blair, author of “The Trumps: Three Generations of Builders and a President.”

“And clearly it was meant as a pre-emptive and intimidating move,” she added, “as were the boilerplate letters I got from his lawyers threatening me with legal consequences if I wrote anything libelous or inaccurate.”

But threatening someone he has just fired with the implication of having recordings, or have taken recordings of conversations with Comey when he headed the FBI, is seen as dirty business if done by the president.

What is clear is that Trump broached the protection of taped conversations in the context of his firing of Comey. And he has been obsessed with U.S. government surveillance aimed at Russian targets last year that swept some of his associates, including Michael Flynn, into the intelligence net.

In the modern presidency, even the preservation of delicate diplomatic telephone conversations with foreign heads of state involves the use of trained note takers, not audio recordings.

Trump’s campaign team may or may not have colluded with Russians. We may or may not find out definitively whether they did or not.

But Trumps actions in response to ongoing FBI investigations are increasingly raising suspicions about whether he is trying to hide something – or whether he is competent enough to be president.

Whatever may have been done during the campaign, the campaign itself, and the ongoing fallout, is further degrading credibility in US democracy.

And Trump is doing nothing to turn poor perceptions around. He is greasing the slippery slope.

13 Comments

  1. Trumpenreich

     /  May 14, 2017

    Globalist propaganda and completely irrelevant. With Clinton bag carrier Comey eliminated and a Trump loyalist running the FBI, Trump can now drain the swamp.

    Here’s a little interesting bit you will probably never see in the Globalist controlled media eg WaPo:

    “A Russian man wanted by the Justice Department on charges connected to hacking U.S. companies now claims the FBI offered him immunity in exchange for accepting responsibility for cyberattacks targeting former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton…FBI agents promised Mr. Nikulin money, American citizenship and a free apartment for taking the fall over hacking Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, he alleged in a letter published Thursday by Nastoyashchoe Vremya, a Russian-language website.”

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-05-13/russian-hacker-claims-fbi-coerced-confession-over-clinton-cyberattack

    • Drain the swamp of what? The rule of law? Effective checks and balances on potential abuses of power?

  2. George

     /  May 14, 2017

    I seem to recollect Nixon had a bit of bother with tape recordings from the White House..

  3. lurcher1948

     /  May 14, 2017

    The trump tapes are next to the trump tower hacking tapes on a shelf inside the head of the POTUS…scary just saying

  4. David

     /  May 14, 2017

    “Trump’s campaign team may or may not have colluded with Russians. We may or may not find out definitively whether they did or not.”

    Trump may, or may not, have killed JFK, we may or may not find out definitively.

    “But Trumps actions in response to ongoing FBI investigations are increasingly raising suspicions about whether he is trying to hide something – or whether he is competent enough to be president.”

    Please explain how firing the head of the FBI in anyway changes the investigations the FBI are conducting. Until the very moment Trump fired him, almost the entire Democratic party was calling for his head. Two seconds later, his dismissal is a threat to US Democracy.

    • “Trump may, or may not, have killed JFK, we may or may not find out definitively.”

      That’s a stupid comparison. There’s no chance he killed JFK, but there’s a number of indications there may have been some contact and possibly collusion with the Russians last year, if not by Trump then by representatives of trumps campaign team.

      • David

         /  May 14, 2017

        “That’s a stupid comparison. ”

        There is as much evidence of Trump’s collusion with the Russians to win the election as there is of him assassinating JFK. .

        “There’s no chance he killed JFK, but there’s a number of indications there may have been some contact and possibly collusion with the Russians last year, if not by Trump then by representatives of trumps campaign team.”

        The absence of evidence is profound. Unless you have something that actually shows something, you are wildly irresponsible claiming ‘may or may not’.

        • How do you know there’s no evidence of Trump’s collusion with Russians?

          But that’s avoiding the point – the investigation is into whether there may have been collusion between people associated with Trump’s campaign and Russians. They apparently apparently aren’t investigating Trump himself.

          • High Flying Duck

             /  May 14, 2017

            You’re being a bit obtuse there PG. The point is the media have been filled with fact free innuendo for a lengthy period of time.
            There is only so long you can push a “may have” agenda before it becomes time to put up or shut up.
            Anyone who was upset by the “birther” story should be even more outraged at this as it is being pushed harder and through more mainstream channels – and with identical amounts of proof.
            There is no evidence of collusion, no evidence the Russians hacked the Democrats, and no evidence the election was stolen.
            The MSM has not let this get in the way of repeated stories about the subject.
            BJ’s article you posted summed it up very well.
            There is mass TDS going in the USA among the media and they are pushing a narrative with nothing to back it up.

            The problem with this is that it gives Trump a free pass on may things as people don’t trust the media when it becomes agenda driven and all that happens at partisan divides widen.

            • But the Russian investigation is a fact.

              Grand jury subpoenas issued in FBI’s Russia investigation

              Federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn seeking business records, as part of the ongoing probe of Russian meddling in last year’s election, according to people familiar with the matter. CNN learned of the subpoenas hours before President Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey.

              The subpoenas represent the first sign of a significant escalation of activity in the FBI’s broader investigation begun last July into possible ties between Trump campaign associates and Russia.
              The subpoenas issued in recent weeks by the US Attorney’s Office in Alexandria, Virginia, were received by associates who worked with Flynn on contracts after he was forced out as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, according to the people familiar with the investigation.

              http://edition.cnn.com/2017/05/09/politics/grand-jury-fbi-russia/

            • High Flying Duck

               /  May 14, 2017

              You’re right. There is an investigation. Mainly about Flynn and seemingly more about his dealings with Russia that were not properly disclosed rather than specific collusion.
              It is ongoing and being an FBI investigation probably very secret.
              So why all the coverage and innuendo covering Trump and all aspects of his campaign?
              It has been well over the top and is full of “may have” ” could be” and other vague non committal statements that should not be reported unless actually verified.

  5. Geoffrey

     /  May 14, 2017

    Lunacy comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s still lunacy.