Friday, May 12, 2017

Tapes, more tapes, and choices

Is Donald Trump his own Alexander Butterfield? Butterfield was the Nixon aide who, without understanding that he was throwing a flaming torch on gasoline in the midst of the Senate Watergate investigation, told committee lawyers that everything Nixon did in the Oval Office was taped. Until Butterfield's testimony, the taping system was a secret between the President and his closest aides.

Now Donald Trump has tweet-threatened the FBI director he just fired that he will reveal previously secret tapes of their conversations. James Comey says, essentially, "bring 'em on."

Richard Nixon's efforts to deny and then retain control of the tapes led to the legal crisis that would be labeled the Saturday Night Massacre when Justice Department leaders (Republicans themselves) resigned rather than fire the special prosecutor who sought a ruling that Nixon must give over custody of these records. The long unraveling of Nixon's defenses lasted almost another year, but as transcripts of taped conversations revealed his direct involvement in illegal acts of political chicanery, he eventually chose to resign rather than be the first president removed from office by impeachment.

Many historians think Nixon would have weathered the storm and served out his term without the tapes Butterfield revealed.

Subsequent Presidents have sometimes taped themselves. The Washington Post (after all this was their great journalistic coup) provides a solid history of Presidential taping, as well of Donald Trump's pre-presidential delight in recording his own utterances.

A post-Watergate reform measure, the Presidential Records Act of 1978, requires presidents to preserve and archive recordings made in the White House.

I imagine Trump, and his enablers, assume he is not subject to these rules. Will Republican-controlled investigating committees go along with shielding Trump from producing the conversations he himself has revealed? Or are they just doormats, willing to go along with whatever lawless acts Trump commits -- all so as to strip healthcare from millions to give the One Percent a big tax break?

This is where we are. Resist and protect much.


Michael Strickland said...

As I have read elsewhere, it's not just Trump who has been doing the taping, it's the FBI, the CIA, and every Russian spy service recording every interaction between Trump "associates" and Russian operatives for a number of years. The question is who is who going to "weaponize" these tapes first and how will that unfold and reverberate? Interesting times.

joared said...

What will we all be subjected to before this whole thing resolves -- the sooner the better for me!

Rain Trueax said...

I am so down on the drama. I do think Trump is his own worse enemy-- and that's saying a lot. He wants to operate 'his' way in a world that isn't his. I had been writing a rant blog but am temporarily stopping it as I am sick of the news that changes from day to day. When I can find something positive for it (I am an optimist at heart), I'll post it but otherwise, I feel like I don't want to be part of the problem by giving an opinion that news the next day shows was wrong-- maybe lol. I do laugh at it and pity those who cannot as rage or fear that consumes us is unhealthy. It's a time of great irony and the fake news (oh my gosh, do you see any of it) is full of new conspiracies every day.

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