Responding to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Wall Street Journal, the United States Secret Service has said that they do not have any audio recordings or transcripts made in the Oval Office under the Donald Trump administration.
While their response “doesn’t exclude the possibility that recordings could have been created by another entity,” it does mean that the agency which set up recording systems for presidents Kennedy and Nixon has not done so for Trump.
In a transparent attempt at intimidation, Trump tweeted last month that fired FBI director James Comey had “better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that the tweet was “not a threat. He’s simply stating a fact,” but refused to confirm or deny the existence of any audio recordings. In testimony before a Senate committee last week, Comey indicated that he would be happy for the president to produce such recordings: “Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” he said. “If he did, my feelings aren’t hurt. Release all the tapes. I’m good with it.”
During a Friday news conference with the president of Romania, Trump refused to answer reporters’ questions directly, saying “I’ll tell you about that maybe sometime in the very near future” and “Oh, you’re going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer, don’t worry.”
But the president is likely just bluffing. Appearing on CNN over the weekend, Trump biographer Tim O’Brien described a similar attempt at intimidation when the real estate mogul tried to sue him for libel in 2005. Emphasis mine:
“He’s said this over the years to reporters when they go into the Trump organization, ‘I just want to let you know that I’m taping you right now,'” O’Brien noted. “And he said it multiple times during my interviews with him. He said that into my own tape recorder when I recorded our interviews.”
“But when he sat down for the deposition, my attorney said, ‘Mr. Trump, do you have a taping system?'” he recalled. “And he said no. And [my attorney] said, ‘Why did you say this to Mr. O’Brien.’ And he essentially said, ‘I wanted to intimidate him.’“
Now the agency that is most likely to possess any such devices or recordings says they don’t have any. “In response to your request, the Secret Service has conducted a reasonable search for responsive records,” they tell the Journal. “It appears, from a review of Secret Service’s main indices, that there are no records pertaining to your request that are referenced in these indices.”
In other words, this whole “tapes” business is probably just another of Donald Trump’s many, many lies — and further evidence that he has been obstructing justice ever since he fired James Comey.Click here for reuse options!
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