Donald Trump, Sean Hannity and a still-elusive tape

Near the end of Monday’s presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Trump stood by his oft-contested claim that he opposed invading Iraq in 2003, despite a tape-recorded interview with Howard Stern in 2002 to the contrary. This time, however, he suggested a new source to back up his assertion. “I had numerous conversations with Sean Hannity at Fox,” he told the audience. “He and I used to have arguments about the war. I said it’s a terrible, stupid thing; it’s going to destabilize the Middle East. And that’s exactly what it’s done.” He added: “Nobody wants to call him. Nobody calls Sean Hannity.”

As it happens, I met with Hannity the week before in the office of his radio studio in Midtown Manhattan in the course of reporting a coming article. Hannity told me then what he reiterated in an interview with Trump immediately following the debate — that such conversations did, in fact, occur. “He would watch the TV show and call me, and he and I would go at it over the Iraq war,” Hannity said. “I remember these conversations vividly. I remember saying to him, ‘I agree with you, take the oil! But this is why we need to go into Iraq.’ ”

Given that Hannity was and is a fierce advocate of the Iraq war, and that Trump had no particular political or foreign-policy expertise, I asked him: “Didn’t you ever think to yourself, Why am I spending all this air time having conversations about Iraq with this guy?”