The revelation that President Trump may be secretly recording conversations in the Oval Office has liberals’ veins popping, but it’s actually a long tradition in the White House. After Trump tweeted on Friday morning a thinly veiled threat to fired FBI director James Comey that he might have “tapes” of their conversations, reporters asked White House spokesman Sean Spicer about the claim. He didn’t deny it, simply replying that “the president has nothing further to add on that.”
In fact, almost every president since Franklin D. Roosevelt had recording systems in the West Wing. Though the practice supposedly stopped with Richard Nixon after the Watergate scandal, Ronald Reagan did record calls with foreign leaders from the Situation Room, and Bill Clinton and Barack Obama also carried on the practice. Black Hawk Down author Mark Bowden once recounted in 2012 how his tape recorder malfunctioned during an interview with Obama. When he mentioned the mishap to White House aide Ben Rhodes, Bowden was told ,”Ah, don’t worry about it. We record everything in here,” and was soon given a full transcript of his interview with Obama.