Q: Have former White House staffers released a “private tape recording” of President Donald Trump?
A: No. That claim comes from a false headline on an old story.
Recordings of various kinds have dogged President Donald Trump — from a hot mic on an “Access Hollywood” shoot in 2005 to the possibility that the FBI seized recorded phone calls in its recent raid on his personal lawyer.
But there’s no truth to a headline circulating on Facebook that claims: “W.H. Staffers Defect, Releasing Private Tape Recording That Has Trump Dead Silent.”
Facebook users flagged it as potentially false. It is.
The headline was first published on a website called Bipartisan Report and was copied the next day by PoliticalBizz.com, which is registered to an owner in India, but posts stories about U.S. politics.
The story under the headline is mostly a re-hashed Wall Street Journal report from a year ago that quoted three unnamed former Trump employees who said that as a businessman he had recorded calls in Trump Tower.
Nearly a month-and-a-half later, the president backtracked, taking to Twitter to say: “With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea… whether there are ‘tapes’ or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.”
The Senate Committee on the Judiciary, which is investigating Trump’s firing of Comey and whether his campaign colluded with Russia, has twice requested that the White House hand over any recordings it may have of Comey. The White House has not provided any recordings nor has it confirmed that it does not have any recordings, according to Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office. Feinstein is the top Democrat on the judiciary committee. Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley is the committee chairman, but his office didn’t return our call.
So, there’s no evidence of White House tapes and it’s not true that former staffers have released a tape.
A search of the Nexis news database showed no results for reports of recently released tape recordings of Trump.
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk false stories flagged by readers on the social media network.
Access Hollywood. “Access Archive: Donald Trump’s Shocking 2005 Comments About Women.” AccessOnline.com. 7 Oct 2016.
Cohen v. United States. Prosecutor’s letter regarding discovery. 26 Apr 2018.
“W.H. Staffers Defect, Releasing Private Tape Recording That Has Trump Dead Silent.” BipartisanReport.com. 30 Apr 2018.
Berzon, Alexandra. “Former Employees of Donald Trump Say They Saw Him Tape Conversations.” The Wall Street Journal. 13 May 2017.
Trump, Donald J. “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Twitter. 12 May 2017.
White House. Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sean Spicer. 12 May 2017.
U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Letter to White House counsel. 17 May 2017.
U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Letter to White House Counsel. 27 Oct 2017.