Former FBI Director James Comey once famously said “Lordy I hope there are tapes” when he was asked about Donald Trump’s assertion that he’d secretly recorded their conversations. There is no evidence that Trump has tapes of Comey, or any other tapes. But it turns out Special Counsel Robert Mueller does have some Trump-Russia tapes of his own, and we know this because Mueller is now confirming as much in his court filings.
Awhile back, Mueller made a big deal out of indicting an attorney named Alex Van Der Zwaan whose connection to the Trump-Russia scandal seemed merely tangential. Van Der Zwaan initially lied to Mueller’s team about his conversations with Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates, and he’s already pleaded guilty to that crime. Now Van Der Zwaan is cooperating in the hope of avoiding prison time, and he’s turned over a tape of a phone call he had with Gates. That tape is ugly for everyone involved.
Mueller’s newly filed court documents confirm that he has a tape of Rick Gates confessing to Van Der Zwaan that Gates and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort were knowingly conspiring with the Russian government intel community during the election. Gates agreed to a plea deal just a few days after it was announced that Van Der Zwaan had pleaded guilty. In hindsight, this tape is likely the determining factor that pushed Gates over the edge and prompted him to cut a deal. But this is just one tape.
Robert Mueller has consistently displayed an uncanny ability to get his hands on evidence that observers didn’t think possible, or didn’t know existed. He somehow has a letter that Donald Trump wrote to Vladimir Putin years ago. He has a tape of Rick Gates incriminating himself and Manafort. What other tapes does Mueller have his hands on? The Stormy Daniels tape? The Pee Pee Tape? We’ll see.