After Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey this week, he publicly threatened him by suggesting he had secretly recorded their conversations. Comey then called Trump’s bluff by saying that he hopes there are recordings (link). But based on Trump’s decades long track record, it sure sounds like those recordings really do exist.
There’s a new piece in the Wall Street Journal which quotes various current and former Donald Trump employees as either claiming that they either know Trump tapes every conversation he ever had, or claiming that they never saw any evidence he was taping anyone. (link). But the real tale of the tapes comes from two specific examples cited in the WSJ piece, both buried near the bottom.
In one example, amid a legal dispute between Donald Trump and a rival casino magnate, Trump was able to produce a recording of the relevant conversation between the two of them on demand. This points to Trump having secretly taped all of his conversations with that particular rival, and almost assuredly, all of his conversations with everyone he considers rivals. In the other example, Trump told a Wall Street Journal reporter that he was taping their in-person interview, and then at the end, he revealed that he’d had a phone capable of recording hidden under a newspaper.
We know that Donald Trump sees the media as his rivals, so it’s not a surprise that he would be recording them just as he’s been recording his business rivals. The ultimate question here is whether Trump saw FBI Director James Comey as a potential rival whom he wasn’t sure he could trust. Considering how much smoke had surfaced publicly about the FBI’s Russia investigation before Trump even took office, of course Trump didn’t fully trust Comey. Which in turn means that of course he recorded their conversations. And now he’s going to have to end up turning over those tapes under Congressional subpoena.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report