WASHINGTON—Baffled as to how the potentially disastrous mistake could have gone unnoticed for so many years, White House sources confirmed Friday that roughly 417,225 hours of private presidential conversations were discovered immaculately preserved due to the fact that no one remembered to turn off Richard Nixon’s tape recorder. “Uh oh—it turns out that every single word that has been uttered in the Oval Office since the early 1970s has been perfectly recorded on this hidden device. This could be pretty bad,” said a Trump administration official who wished to remain anonymous, revealing that aides had stumbled upon the tapes earlier this week and, after discovering they contained thousands of clearly recorded conversations over the course of the Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump presidencies, had been unsure how to proceed in handling a find of such magnitude. “I’m not sure the American public could handle some of the information these tapes contain. There’s key information that could clarify the Iran–Contra scandal, countless conversations about the war in Iraq—there’s even a meeting where George W. Bush and Dick Cheney discuss 9/11 almost a month before it happened. This is going to have huge repercussions.” At press time, sources reported that the panicked aides had, in a botched attempt to delete the recording, accidentally begun to play on a loop the audio of a 1981 Oval Office meeting in which Vice President George H.W. Bush hires John Hinckley Jr. to assassinate president Ronald Reagan.
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