That certainly is how Democrats try to portray him. Trump firing Comey = Nixon firing Cox. Right? Wrong. But here is another one: With ‘tapes’ tweet, Trump evokes Nixon’s White House.
The reference is to this tweet by the president:
James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
That might have been dumb, but in any event, the press jumped all over it:
For the first time since an Oval Office taping system was removed by President Richard Nixon’s chief of staff nearly 44 years ago, a president has hinted that White House conversations might again be secretly recorded. If so, President Donald Trump is following a problematic precedent.
While several presidents secretly recorded conversations without problems, the practice is most associated with Nixon. His recordings became prime evidence during the Watergate investigation that ultimately led to his resignation.
Which, of course, is what the AP hopes will happen to President Trump. But what about those “several presidents” who have recorded conversations without problems? Might that actually be all of them?
There is a rich history of secret presidential recordings since Franklin D. Roosevelt. Tapes of John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office helped cement his reputation as a strong leader during multiple crises. Lyndon Johnson also recorded conversations.
But Nixon’s recordings are the most famous.
Of course they are! The Democrats used them to bring him down. The Democrats want to tie President Trump to Richard Nixon, as though his possible taping of Oval Office conversations over the last several months were unusual.
But did Barack Obama also secretly tape his Oval Office conversations? Twitchy has the story:
In 2012, journalist Mark Bowden gave a talk at the Pritzker Military Museum in Chicago about his new book, “The Finish: The Killing of Osama bin Laden.” As part of the research for that book, Bowden spent 90 minutes interviewing President Barack Obama in the Oval Office. The interview went well — until it didn’t.
“As I stood up to say goodbye to the president, I looked down and my tape recorder had died. … That thing had always worked like a charm but there it was, just as dead as a nut on the table. So I said my goodbyes and as I was walking out of the Oval Office with Ben Rhodes, I said, ‘Ben, you’re not going to believe this, but my recorder died in the middle of that somewhere.’”
“‘Ah don’t worry about it,’ he says, ‘we record everything in here. We’ll get you a transcript before you leave.’ And he did.”
That anecdote speaks volumes about the subject at hand: A recorded, transcribed conversation that was conducted without the subject knowing.
While the AP’s story linked at the top of this post is ambiguous, it suggests that the Oval Office taping system was removed, and not replaced, after the Nixon administration. This appears not to be true:
Btw I checked with USSS source: the Oval Office still has recording capability. Hopefully with better audio quality than Nixon had. https://t.co/XE869mNqIV
— Yashar (@yashar) May 12, 2017
Putting all of that together, there seems little reason to say that Trump is the new Nixon, as it relates to recording in the Oval Office. It might be more accurate to say that Trump is the new Barack Obama, but I am sure Trump would rather be associated with a reasonably competent, if deeply flawed, president–Richard Nixon.