The Sock Drawer Tapes: Did Clinton conceal evidence?

Shades of Watergate! Funny business regarding secret White House tapes. No suspicious gaps, but rather tape recordings not turned over despite subpoenas.

While Bill Clinton was under investigation by special prosecutors and Robert Fiske and Ken Starr, he received subpoenas for all sorts of records, yet apparently did not turn over secret tapes. He had recorded interviews with historian Taylor Branch, described by one White House insider as Clinton's diarist. The tapes remained in Clinton's possession. He kept them in his sock drawer, a rather colorful detail that instantly supplies the right name for the scandal: The Sock Drawer Tapes. Branch has just published a
book based on his own taped thoughts, recorded directly after his interviews with Clinton in The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President

Michael Smercomish describes the circumstances, and analyzes the probable legal situation in an excellent piece in the Daily Beast.  But without access to details of the subpoenas, the conduct of the investigations and comments from the special prosecutors, it is impossible to conclude that the law was violated.

The reader of The Clinton Tapes is left believing that the tapes themselves were never produced, something Branch himself believes.

"I'm virtually certain that they were not. I don't know, but what I'm saying is that David Kendall answered some subpoenas for material in the president's possession and he listened to the tapes and I'm sure responded," he told me when we spoke last week.

"But my guess is that he did it in a way that he didn't tip off that these were from this larger enterprise, didn't say this is from a tape recording, that he did it in a way that didn't telegraph where it came from and maybe concealed it with a lot of other information, things that Clinton told him or whatever, so that the special counsel's office never filed a subpoena saying, ‘Is there a tape project there involving Taylor Branch talking? Give us all the tapes, we want to listen.' That was our dread."

Those issues included the controversy over the White House travel office, Vince Foster's death, Whitewater, Paula Jones, and Monica Lewinsky. Each of those matters was investigated. Subpoenas were a staple of the Clinton years.

Regardless of whether or not Clinton and his counsel Donald Kendall acted legally or illegally in responding to subpoenas, Clinton's impeachment trial must now be considered tainted. The existence of evidence denied to special prosecutors, and therefore the Congress of the United States is now on the record.

Both Houses of Congress solemnly considered the evidence, and impeached but did not convict Bill Clinton. We now know they were not able to examine all the evidence.
Shades of Watergate! Funny business regarding secret White House tapes. No suspicious gaps, but rather tape recordings not turned over despite subpoenas.

While Bill Clinton was under investigation by special prosecutors and Robert Fiske and Ken Starr, he received subpoenas for all sorts of records, yet apparently did not turn over secret tapes. He had recorded interviews with historian Taylor Branch, described by one White House insider as Clinton's diarist. The tapes remained in Clinton's possession. He kept them in his sock drawer, a rather colorful detail that instantly supplies the right name for the scandal: The Sock Drawer Tapes. Branch has just published a
book based on his own taped thoughts, recorded directly after his interviews with Clinton in The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President

Michael Smercomish describes the circumstances, and analyzes the probable legal situation in an excellent piece in the Daily Beast.  But without access to details of the subpoenas, the conduct of the investigations and comments from the special prosecutors, it is impossible to conclude that the law was violated.

The reader of The Clinton Tapes is left believing that the tapes themselves were never produced, something Branch himself believes.

"I'm virtually certain that they were not. I don't know, but what I'm saying is that David Kendall answered some subpoenas for material in the president's possession and he listened to the tapes and I'm sure responded," he told me when we spoke last week.

"But my guess is that he did it in a way that he didn't tip off that these were from this larger enterprise, didn't say this is from a tape recording, that he did it in a way that didn't telegraph where it came from and maybe concealed it with a lot of other information, things that Clinton told him or whatever, so that the special counsel's office never filed a subpoena saying, ‘Is there a tape project there involving Taylor Branch talking? Give us all the tapes, we want to listen.' That was our dread."

Those issues included the controversy over the White House travel office, Vince Foster's death, Whitewater, Paula Jones, and Monica Lewinsky. Each of those matters was investigated. Subpoenas were a staple of the Clinton years.

Regardless of whether or not Clinton and his counsel Donald Kendall acted legally or illegally in responding to subpoenas, Clinton's impeachment trial must now be considered tainted. The existence of evidence denied to special prosecutors, and therefore the Congress of the United States is now on the record.

Both Houses of Congress solemnly considered the evidence, and impeached but did not convict Bill Clinton. We now know they were not able to examine all the evidence.