Trump Appears to Admit White House Aides Signed Nondisclosure Agreements

Trump Appears to Admit White House Aides Signed Nondisclosure Agreements

But veterans of other administrations had a different view.

“He’s being hoisted by his own petard,” said Ned Price, a former National Security Council official under President Barack Obama. “These are not tactics that belong in government.”

David Axelrod, the former chief strategist for Mr. Obama, said Mr. Trump had essentially set several versions of himself loose and was being stung by it.

“He’s created a White House in his own image, and that has led to many, many problems,” Mr. Axelrod said.

Taping conversations is, in fact, a longtime tactic of Mr. Trump’s.

For decades, he used it both as an insurance policy and for private titillation as a real estate developer who liked to keep a record, should he ever need it, of phone conversations and meetings, according to former aides. Staff members warned one another to be careful if they used his phone system at his private club Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, and to be mindful of what they said across his desk at Trump Tower in Manhattan. During the presidential campaign, aides worried that their office on the fifth floor of Trump Tower was bugged.

When Mr. Trump arrived in office, he joked to aides about President Richard M. Nixon’s infamous Oval Office taping system, saying it must have been nice for him. When Mr. Trump contested the claims made by James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, that the president had pushed him to end an investigation, Mr. Trump tweeted that there might be tapes, a claim he later withdrew.

But in recent weeks, it has been Mr. Trump facing a threat from audio recordings, first by his former personal lawyer, Mr. Cohen, and now by Ms. Manigault Newman, a staff member whom Mr. Trump wanted over the objections of his chief of staff at the time, Reince Priebus. Ms. Manigault Newman is believed to have tapes of Mr. Priebus and other officials.

Mr. Cohen taped Mr. Trump discussing payments made by The National Enquirer’s parent company to a woman claiming that she had had an affair with the then-candidate to quash the story. That tape emerged after Mr. Cohen’s home and office were raided by the F.B.I.

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