There are tapes

Donald Trump once publicly insinuated that he had “tapes” of his private conversations with then-FBI Director James Comey. When presented with this revelation, Comey famously said “Lordy I hope there are tapes.” The clear implication was that Comey knew any such tapes would prove his version of the story to have been correct. Now it turns out, in a different but related aspect of the Trump-Russia scandal, there are indeed tapes.

Yesterday I questioned why the mainstream media was eagerly reporting every last detail in Michael Wolff’s new book, despite the total lack of verification that had been presented up to that point, after the media had spent a year needlessly dismissing the Trump-Russia dossier as being “unverified.” We still have no answer for that. But we have learned today that, even though the media didn’t know it when it was eagerly lapping up the details of the book yesterday, Wolff does indeed have tapes.

Axios exclusively reported today that Wolff has dozens of hours of tapes which verify that the likes of Steve Bannon really did say what his book claims they said (link). Of course the exclusive nature of today’s story means that no one in the media knew about the tapes yesterday, but that’s a whole other conversation. The upshot here is that Wolff can apparently prove that Trump’s people really did say these things, and that’s half the battle.

To be clear, these tapes don’t prove that any of the quotes in the book are truthful, only that the quotes were given. Steve Bannon can make a claim about Donald Trump, and unless he has evidence to back it up, those are just his words. In other words, Wolff’s book is still no more “verified” than the Trump-Russia dossier, which was based on more expert sources. But at the least, the book is far more legitimate today than it appeared to be yesterday. That’s good news for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who can use the book as an additional roadmap for unraveling the conspiracy.

Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report