Anxious White House staffers reportedly fear they are being recorded as an investigation edges deeper into Donald Trump’s inner circle.
“Everyone is paranoid,” a source close to the White House told POLITICO. “Everyone thinks they’re being recorded”.
Last week, special counsel Robert Mueller sent shivers through the Trump administration with the announcement that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about his contacts with Russia.
The indictment of a former top aide and campaign surrogate followed charges for erstwhile campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who also pleaded guilty to feeding the FBI falsehoods, and former campaign chair Paul Manafort and associate Rick Gates, who both denied allegations of tax fraud and money laundering as false.
As Mr Mueller’s investigation of potential ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government intensifies, the possibility of people testifying against other members of the Trump orbit is looming over the White House.
The plea deals Mr Flynn and Mr Papadopoulos accepted both suggest they are working with Mr Mueller’s investigation, and according to POLITICO White House staffers are increasingly concerned about conversations with colleagues who are covertly equipped with recording devices.
An attorney for the President, Ty Cobb, dismissed the concerns of people wearing wires as “unhinged speculation with no foundation”. Mr Cobb has consistently maintained that the President did not collude with Russia, and Mr Trump has blasted both Mr Mueller’s investigation and parallel Congressional efforts as witch hunts.
But the President himself has in the past stoked speculation about White House recordings. After he fired former FBI Director James Comey, Mr Trump warned on Twitter that Mr Comey “better hope there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press”! Mr Trump later said he did not record conversations with Mr Comey – and no other sign of any tapes has been found.