President Trump said on Thursday that, despite his repeated teases about the existence of recordings of his conversations with fired FBI Director James Comey, he did not make any tapes. But he added a paranoid flourish, nodding toward frequent leaks from the government and his claims of persecution by the intelligence community, by suggesting that recordings might have been made without his knowledge.
In keeping with the increasing sidelining of his communications staff, Trump made the statement via Twitter.
With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2017
...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
It seemed highly likely that Trump was blowing smoke about the tapes all along. He has, as the AP noted, repeatedly promised to deliver big surprises—such as information proving Barack Obama was not an American citizen—and then failed to do so. Multiple reporters recalled incidents in which Trump claimed to be recording conversations but never produced the tapes, even when claiming he’d been misquoted. Common sense also suggests that no president would be so foolish as to record Oval Office conversations, especially if they involved potential obstruction of justice, given the role of tapes in bringing down President Richard Nixon. Then again, common sense suggests not obstructing justice, and often does not apply to this administration.