Despite President Donald Trump’s occasional claims that he possesses exculpatory audio recordings, a former White House stenographer says that isn’t the case.
“Mr. Trump likes to call anyone who disagrees with him ‘fake news,’” Beck Dorey-Stein, who worked in the White House from the 2012 to 2017, wrote in the New York Times Tuesday. “But if he’s really the victim of so much inaccurate reporting, why is he so averse to having the facts recorded and transcribed?”
Dorey-Stein, who’s got a new memoir out covering her White House days, says she and other White House stenographers were told early on in Trump’s presidency that “we would need to keep our microphones far away from the president’s face.”
Trump has claimed at high-profile moments in his tenure that audio recordings will prove him right — without offering up the audio recordings to show for it.
In June last year, he finally admitted after a month of suspense that he hadn’t recorded his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey. Trump had initially warned Comey, after firing him, that Comey had “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations,” after Comey claimed Trump asked for his loyalty in a private meeting, among other things.
More recently, Trump denied that he had insulted British Prime Minister Theresa May in an interview with the British tabloid The Sun. This, incredibly, came despite The Sun publishing audio alongside its article on the interview.
“Fortunately we tend to record stories now so we have it for your enjoyment if you’d like it,” Trump claimed. “But we record when we deal with reporters. It’s called fake news. We solve a lot of problems with the good old recording instrument.”
He later apologized to May — or, he said he apologized to her — for his comments in the interview, having not produced his own audio.
“President Obama was really good at not speaking on the record unless he was speaking on the record,” Dorey-Stein said on CNN Wednesday morning. “Whereas President Trump likes to say ‘Oh, this was off the record,’ or ‘There’s no recording of this,’ or ‘We record everything.’ He’s just constantly going back-and-forth, backtracking.”
“He doesn’t often say ‘check the transcript,’ because the transcript will reveal the truth,” she added.
Separately on CNN, Dorey-Stein recalled an encounter Trump had with then-Fox News host Bill O’Reilly that she said was unprecedented in her White House service.
“[O’Reilly] went and spent an hour with President Trump before doing the interview,” she said. “I’d never seen anything like that with five years of President Obama.”
“Never during the day would President Obama use the sitting President’s time to talk to an interviewer before the actual interview.”