Three former employees of Donald Trump claim to have personally witnessed him recording phone calls at Trump Tower in New York, and a fourth person said a recording of him was entered into evidence in a lawsuit – the Wall St. Journal reports.
Mr. Trump sometimes taped phone conversations with associates and others from his Trump Tower office in New York, according to three people who say they have direct knowledge of the recordings.
Mr. Trump had one or more recording devices that he used to tape his phone calls from his office, the three people said. All are former high-level employees who worked for Mr. Trump over a span of three decades. They said they saw devices in use recording phone calls.
One employee claims Trump recorded ‘virtually everything’
“He recorded virtually everything in the office,” one former high-level Trump Organization employee said. “I know many of my conversations when I called him were recorded before and after I was working there.
The new claims come on the heels of a Friday Tweet from the President suggesting former FBI Director James Comey better check himself before he further wrecks himself.
James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
Hours later, Comey announced he wouldn’t be testifying before a closed session of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“It is our hope in the not-too-distant future that we can find a time for [Comey] to come in and talk to our Committee” -Vice Chairman Mark Werner (D-VA)
Thursday evening, the President made waves in an interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt when he said that Comey requested a dinner in which he asked to keep his job as FBI Director, and allegedly told the President that he wasn’t under investigation:
It is unclear whether Trump’s tweet the next day about ‘tapes’ was in reference to the dinner with Comey or other conversations with the former FBI director.
Trump’s attorney responds
According to the WSJ, Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen said he wasn’t aware of any such recording devices;
“In the decade that I worked for Mr. Trump, I have never seen a recording device attached to his phone, nor am I aware of any occasion where he taped a conversation.”
During a Friday briefing with the press, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer did not comment on whether or not the President had made recordings featuring the former FBI Director, or whether the President records conversations at the White House.
If true, is it legal?
Recording a conversation in New York or Washington isn’t illegal as long as at least one party knows it’s happening. Florida, where Trump spends a lot of time at his mar-a-lago resort, requires all parties to consent to being taped unless it’s in public.
Democrats flip out over tweet, Wikileaks makes a friendly offer
In response to Trump’s Friday morning tweet, congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) shot off a harshly worded letter to Trump’s attorney seeking answers about the suspected recording.
Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL, where else) shoots off harshly worded letter demanding answers. pic.twitter.com/HgxmI6WKzc
— ZeroPointNow (@ZeroPointNow) May 14, 2017
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) May 12, 2017
Previous recording activities on record
During a 1989 lawsuit against Trump’s Atlantic City casino, the owners of the Sands, Pratt Hotel Corp, sued the Trump organization for interfering with their attempts to buy a construction project near Trump Plaza Casino. In court, Trump’s legal team presented a recording Trump had made of a conversation between himself and the president of Pratt, William Weidner – in order to show that Weidner had lied on the stand.
In another incident during the 2016 presidential campaign a reporter for the WSJ sat down with Mr. Trump for an interview, informing him that he planned to tape – to which Trump replied he would be taping as well. Trump then slid a newspaper across his desk with a smartphone underneath, presumably recording.
Indeed, it appears that former FBI Director James Comey should watch what he says – perhaps explaining his refusal to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee next week.