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Alex Brandon / AP

Trump tweeted Friday that his fired FBI Director James Comey better hope there aren't any tapes of their conversations, which critics quickly noted only further links him to Nixonian practices.

But it's not illegal for a President to record conversations: After Watergate, there weren't any policies added to limit presidents from recording, per Politifact. Plus, "one-party consent" is all that's needed to tape a conversation lawfully in Washington, D.C.

And presidential taping is more common than you might think: The history of presidents taping conversations isn't exclusive to Nixon.

The Washington Post

,

Politifact

, and

NYDaily News

have consolidated the details on which presidents have recorded conversations throughout history:

  • The first president to tape in the Oval Office was FDR, and Harry Truman inherited his recording device.
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower had a hidden button in a fake telephone on his desk to record conversations.
  • JFK increased the number of recording devices during his term.
  • Lyndon B. Johnson recorded phone calls (including a notorious call where he ordered about six pairs of slacks). Johnson also increased the number of mics in the Cabinet room.
  • Nixon himself used seven microphones in the Oval Office, two in the Cabinet room, four in his EEOB office next door to the WH, a recording system at Camp David, as well as in the Sitting Room of the residence. Only a few WH employees knew of their existence until July 1973.
  • The anti-tapers: Gerald Ford gave firm instructions to remove taping equipment after Nixon's scandal, and he only recorded two phone calls with foreign leaders. Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush wouldn't allow any tapings either. There's no evidence Bill Cinton taped anything.
  • On the fence: Ronald Reagan allowed tapings of meetings and conversations extensively, and NPR reports Obama may have been recording conversations with visitors around 2013.

Go deeper

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China and Russia vaccinate the world — for now

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

While the U.S. and Europe focus on vaccinating their own populations, China and Russia are sending millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses to countries around the world.

Why it matters: China's double success in controlling its domestic outbreak and producing several viable vaccines has allowed it to focus on providing doses abroad — an effort that could help to save lives across several continents.

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology

Report: China will dominate AI unless U.S. invests more

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S., which once had a dominant head start in artificial intelligence, now has just a few year's lead on China and risks being overtaken unless government steps in, according to a new report to Congress and the White House.

Why it matters: Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who chaired the committee that issued the report, tells Axios that the U.S. risks dire consequences if it fails to both invest in key technologies and fully integrate AI into the military.

Americans agree about more issues than they realize

Data: Populace Inc.; Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Many Americans assume the rest of the country doesn't share their political and policy priorities — but they're often wrong, according to new polling by Populace, first seen by Axios.

Why it matters: The polling reveals that despite growing political polarization, Americans share similar long-term goals and priorities for the country.