The cat is out of the bag on Donald Trump’s allusion to recordings taken during his private meetings with former FBI Director James B. Comey.
As you will recall, back on May 12, Trump tweeted “James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”.
Since then, the House Intelligence Committee, gave the White House and Trump’s chief counsel, Don McGahn a deadline of the 23rd for production of any and all such recordings involved in Trump’s claim, after which they would consider issuing a subpoena for them.
Trump’s tweet in May, was not the last reference he made to them, telling reporters in the Rose Garden the next day “I’ll tell you about that maybe sometime in the very near future”. And, “Oh, you’re going to be disappointed when you hear the answer, don’t worry.”
It was a bizarre and cryptic statement.
Fast forward to this morning and Trump’s clear repudiation of his original allusion to recordings.
…whether there are "tapes" or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2017
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that Trump’s insinuation about tapes had no foundation. “I think it was pretty clear in that statement that he ‘hoped for his sake’ that tapes existed.” When asked if Trump records any conversations, Huckabee told the reporters, “Not that I’m aware of.”
This development leaves many to wonder, as they do with virtually every tweet and statement Trump makes that make his communications team and political surrogates’ jobs just that much tougher – what is the strategy involved with Trump’s statement?
The speculation revolves around two possibilities. One is that Trump was instructed by his legal team to stop playing a cat and mouse game with Congress on the existence or non-existence of any recordings.
The other possibility is that Trump did not consider the implications of his original inferences and innuendos and that once the House Intelligence Committee declared serious intentions regarding the subject, Trump concluded that the longer he stalled, the more politically charged and dangerous the issue could become.
A broad look at Trump’s habits and impulses suggests the former to be more likely than the latter.