It’s so freaking stupid. The President of the United States of America threatens former-FBI Director James Comey with the tweet,”James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” which is funny because this actually prompted a leak. So naturally, now everyone wants to know if there are tapes, to which Trump simply responds, “I’ll tell you about it over a very short period of time…You’re going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer, don’t worry.” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer then made a non-statement saying, “The President made clear in the Rose Garden last week he’ll have an announcement shortly,” and said that an announcement will be made “when the President’s ready to make it.” But why such deliberation?
The recordings (or “tapes,” as Trump called them) either exist or they do not. Some speculate that the reason, as Chris Cillizza of CNN writes, “Because everything Trump does is viewed as a performance. It’s always about leaving the audience wanting more, making sure they tune into the next episode.” But I think the only possible reason Trump would have to delay the answer to this simple question is that he hasn’t a clue on how to handle this situation. Whether or not the tapes exist, Trump comes out looking bad.
If the tapes exist, they likely corroborate Comey’s account of his interactions with Trump. Trump’s Twitter-threat was stupid because what would Comey have to be afraid of if the tapes were released? Obviously nothing. He testified that he hoped there were tapes (“lordy” he hopes!”). Trump’s threat was illogical, but I suspect that he didn’t realize that because he didn’t realize who he was dealing with. He probably thought the bully games and intimidation tactics of his real estate days would fly in Washington, and that was a rookie mistake. So, if the tapes exist, what to do with them? Keep them? Destroy them? Decisions, decisions…
If they tapes don’t exist, that makes Trump look like a chump. A cheap, empty threat from a weak, insecure man. This might be likely. Trump has used this tactic before. But he should have known that sooner or later there would be demands for the tapes.
There you go, two options and both require the Trump administration to lose their shit and make ridiculous excuses for delaying their answer to a very straightforward question. The tapes either exist or they don’t. Actually, however bad it would be for Trump if the tapes do exist, it might be better than if there were no tapes, because who’s going to believe him if he says there are none?