Once a month or so between 1993 and 2001, friend of Bill and former journalist Taylor Branch went to the White House to record discussions with Clinton about his life and presidency.
Clinton kept the White House tapes in his sock drawer, but Branch would record his thoughts on the conversations on his way home and those musings became a book — The Clinton Tapes, released September 29.
A personal account of any presidency in real time will always be historically fascinating. But, as usual, lawyers can take the fun out of anything, and the existence of these tapes raises a really interesting legal question.
As Michael Smerconish points out in a great piece in The Daily Beast, it would be pretty surprising if these tapes did not fall within the various subpoena requests sent to the White House during the numerous investigations of the Clinton presidency.
As anyone who has ever had to draft or respond to a discovery request knows, broad (but of course not “overly broad”) is the name of the game — “any and all correspondence, including any emails, memorandums, letters, or recordings, relating to the [insert extensive description of relevant topic here].”
It seems highly doubtful that Bill Clinton answering questions about subjects ranging from Vincent Foster to Monica Lewinsky would not fit within Ken Starr’s subpoena requests.
The Daily Beast excerpts from The Clinton Tapes indicate attorneys for Clinton listened to portions of the recordings and provided information found in the tapes to investigators, but the tapes themselves, Smerconish says, were never turned over.
Without seeing the specific requests, there is of course no way to know if the tapes should have been turned over. And we would never suggest that reopening the can of worms that was the Starr investigation is a good idea.
But discovery questions never die, and when the question is this juicy, lawyers just cannot help themselves.
Read the entire Daily Beast story here.
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