The chatter in Washington in recent weeks has focused particularly around one big question: Has President Donald Trump been taping his conversations in the White House?
Speculation over this topic was kicked off by the president himself just days after he fired FBI Director James Comey. After an anonymously sourced account that Trump asked for Comey's "loyalty" at a private dinner leaked to the New York Times, Trump tweeted one morning that Comey "better hope there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"
@realDonaldTrump: James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!
That was more than a month ago, and since then the White House has been repeatedly asked whether President Trump has been recording his conversations, à la Richard Nixon's infamous Oval Office taping system - and they haven't answered.
Now, Trump has been so vague about the topic that it's entirely possible and perhaps even likely he doesn't have tapes at all — and that instead, this is some sort of odd attempted bluff.
But it's a tremendously important question. The existence of any tapes could have momentous legal ramifications, because tapes make damn good evidence.
After all, the Watergate scandal truly spiraled out of control for Nixon when investigators discovered that he had taped thousands of hours' worth of his private discussions' with aides. A combination of investigative, congressional, and judicial pressure forced the handover of the tapes. They proved to contain damning revelation after damning revelation, and eventually resulted in Nixon's political demise.
Alternatively, if Comey's testimony was false as Trump is claiming, tapes could theoretically vindicate Trump and expose Comey to perjury charges. (Asked about this possibility during his testimony last week, Comey said, "Lordy, I hope there are tapes.")
Whatever the case, we'll probably find out soon — the House Intelligence Committee has requested that the White House confirm whether it has any tapes of the president's conversations with Comey, and to produce them if they do exist.