According to information revealed in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FIA) request, the Secret Service doesn’t have audio recordings, or transcripts from recordings, of President Trump’s private White House meetings.
A request from the Wall Street Journal, to the Secret Service, for any tapes that may exist prompted the response. The response eliminates the possibility that the Secret Service had created a taping system for the president.
The Secret Service’s denial doesn’t eliminate the possibility that tapes exist, however. President Trump could record his guests himself or direct White House staff members to record them.
Curiosity about the existence of recordings between the President and his guests was sparked by a tweet the president posted in early May. The tweet warned former FBI Director James Comey that recordings of their conversations could exist, writing: “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
The tweet drew attention from the press, the public and from congress. Congressional committees investigating Russia’s alleged tampering and Trump’s firing of Comey showed interest in the tapes, and some in congress began asking President Trump to hand over any that may exist. Even Comey himself seemed interested in revealing the tapes. “Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” he said while testifying to the Senate last Thursday.
Friday, President Donald Trump held a press conference in the White House Rose Garden with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. During the event, the president took questions from the press, who were interested in Trump’s response to Comey’s testimony and the existence of tapes.
In his first comments since Comey’s public testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the president said, “No collusion, no obstruction. [Comey’s] a leaker.”
The president also said that he didn’t ask for Comey’s loyalty, stating, “I hardly know the man. I’m not going to say I want you to pledge allegiance. Who would do that? Who would ask a man to pledge allegiance under oath? I hardly know the man,” Trump continued. “It doesn’t make sense. I didn’t say that.”
President Trump told reporters he would be “100 percent” willing to talk to special prosecutor Robert Mueller under oath.
In reference to tapes of his White House conversations with Comey, Trump responded, “I’ll tell you something about that maybe sometime in the very near future.”
According to the New York Daily News:
Whether or not Trump made the tapes is a huge deal for his presidency. If he didn’t, he appears to have been threatening a former FBI director against talking about their private conversations. If he did make them and refuses to hand them over, that could be interpreted as obstruction of justice — an impeachable offense. If he did make the tapes and hands them over, he better hope they prove his version of the facts, and not Comey’s.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer would not confirm the existence of tapes during Monday’s press briefing, saying the president would make a statement about the tapes at some point in the future.
Both Presidents Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy had taping systems run by the Secret Service.
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