Tomorrow, former FBI Chief, James Comey, will testify before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. Comey’s testimony could represent the beginning of an irrecoverable Trump administration death spiral.
President Trump fired Comey last month, citing Comey’s poor management of the Clinton email investigation. The less-than-convincing story behind the firing was fraught with contradiction.
Since that time the public has become aware of a series of memos, written by Comey, containing records of statements made by the president to him. A whirlwind of allegations has risen up in response to this revelation. Hard line Trump critics have been quick to launch charges of obstruction of justice.
White House officials have already said that they will not pursue the use of executive privilege in an attempt to block Comey’s testifying. Setting aside a complete lack of precedent for this effort actually succeeding in similar situations, the case would inevitably be difficult to argue. It would also become a legal and political nightmare for the administration.
The hearing will be broadcast live on several major news networks including NBC, ABC, and CBS. People around the country have already marked the date and a substantial portion intend to watch the broadcast live as if it were a sporting event.
A number of important questions could be waiting for Comey. Republican members of the committee may be more than willing to delve deep into the issue. Many Republicans have set themselves apart from the Trump mother ship, fearing its soaring unpopularity, while others have comfortably adhered to its fuselage.
It is highly likely that James Comey will be asked about his conversations with the president in regards to the federal investigation into former Trump National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn’s, interactions with the Russian ambassador. The two are said to have inappropriately discussed sanctions. Flynn later misrepresented his communications with Kislyak to Vice President, Mike Pence, as well. Even more significant could be questions about why Comey chose the specific time that he did to share information about the memos’ existence with the public.
Additionally, the former FBI Director may be asked to address Trump’s statements arguing that Comey told him specifically that he was not under federal investigation. In this case, Comey may be likely to describe a differing set of communications.
What actually happened will remain open to interpretation. Evidence of these conversations is basically second-hand. In the case of the Watergate scandal, there was more tangible evidence, which existed in the form of tape recordings. Comey’s memos, however, are relatively credible evidence.
James Comey will provide his version of events and is unlikely to make any accusations. Depending on his perspective, things could certainly continue to heat up in Washington.
Fundamentally, it may end up being Comey’s word against Trump’s. In that situation, even if his true intent continues to be hard to pin down people may be far more inclined to side with Comey’s testimony.
James Comey’s Senate hearing tomorrow will be one of the most popular political occurrences of the last few years. It may eventually also be the case that the testimony given becomes some of the most important and influential in U.S. political history.