If President Trump taped a conversation between himself and former FBI Director James Comey, were his actions legal?
The short answer is yes.
The District of Columbia is a “one-party” consent state. D.C. Code § 23-542 provides that it is permissible to tape a conversation with someone if “such person is a party to the communication, or where one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent.”
North Carolina is also a “one-party consent” state. According to N.C.G.S. § 15A-287, it is illegal to intercept or record any “wire, oral, or electronic communication” unless one party to the conversation consents.
In other words, your conversations could be taped without your knowledge or consent if you live in a one-party consent state such as North Carolina or the District of Columbia.
Keep in mind that there are also federal laws regarding the above conduct and nuances depending on the particular situation. For instance, federal labor laws limit an employer’s ability to audiotape employees by prohibiting the secret monitoring of union meetings, including audiotaping. Finally, there are different issues that arise with regards to videotaping with the standard typically focusing on the person’s expectation of privacy.
What is the lesson to be learned here? If you can’t say something nice, whisper.