House Democrats Elijah Cummings, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, and John Conyers, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, released a joint statement arguing that "Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives need a briefing from the national security adviser and the directors of our nation's intelligence agencies to get to the bottom of these allegations."The congressmen added that if audio recordings exist of the meeting, "Congress needs to obtain them immediately."
Ah yes, the "tapes." The president himself raised the prospect
last week of secret recordings he's made of White House conversations, and Press Secretary Sean Spicer didn't contradict him, refusing to confirm or deny the existence of such recordings. By late Friday, Trump said he "can't talk about
" the subject, but by then, it was too late -- because he'd already raised the question we didn't know to ask.Those recordings, if they exist, were already a key part of the controversies surrounding Trump, and they may help prove whether the president obstructed justice as part of the Russia scandal. But last night, the possibility of these recordings took on an added significance: they may also shed light on the president providing a foreign adversary with highly classified intelligence.The stonewalling continued yesterday. Consider this striking exchange
from yesterday's White House press briefing between Spicer and NBC News' Hallie Jackson:
JACKSON: Why won't you just explain whether or not there are recordings of the ]resident's conversation?SPICER: The president has made it clear what his position is.JACKSON: That's not my question, so why won't you explain it?SPICER: I understand that. Because that's what the president's position is.JACKSON: So given that you refuse to confirm or deny any of this, how is any senior official supposed to feel comfortable having a conversation privately with the president?SPICER: As I've said, Hallie, the president has made it clear what his position is.
In reality, the president hasn't made it clear what his position is. Trump raised the possibility that these audio recordings exist, and then he and his White House refused comment. That's not making a position clear; it's the opposite.And now that Trump appears to have shared highly sensitive secrets with Russia in a conversation that may have been recorded, we're going to need quite a bit more clarity.