June 19--WASHINGTON -- This week could bring an end to the ongoing mystery of whether tapes of President Trump's White House conversations with former FBI Director James B. Comey actually exist -- or it could lead to the White House being hit with a congressional subpoena.
Trump for weeks has teased the issue in a reality show-style cliffhanger despite requests from multiple congressional committees for copies of any such recordings or transcripts. But he may end the suspense this week, according to his attorney.
"I think the president is going to address that in the week ahead," Trump's attorney Jay Sekulow said yesterday on CBS' "Face the Nation."
It all stems from the president's May 12 tweet: "James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"
During Comey's June 8 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, where he testified that Trump pressed him to drop the FBI investigation into former White House aide Michael Flynn, Comey said, "Lordy, I hope there are tapes."
Friday is the deadline set by the House Intelligence Committee for the White House to produce "any White House recordings or memoranda of Comey's conversations with President Trump (that) now exist or have in the past."
The House Oversight and Judiciary committees have issued similar requests.
Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said failure to respond could result in subpoenas being issued.
"One way or the other, we need an answer," Schiff said on ABC's "This Week" yesterday.
"And if we can't get an answer, then I think we'll ultimately need to subpoena those potential documents to make sure that we have them."
During a June 9 White House press conference, Trump teased reporters about the potential existence of the tapes, saying he would reveal whether or not they existed "over a fairly short period of time."
"Oh, you're going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer," Trump said.
If Trump's answer is a signal that no such recordings exist, despite the intrigue created around the prospect of recorded conversations, Trump is unlikely to face legal or political consequences for dragging out the matter, GOP strategist Ford O'Connell said.
Legally, "the only thing that matters is, will he be charged with obstruction? Nothing else matters" O'Connell said.
"Politically, the people who don't like him still won't like him, and the people who support him will still support him."
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