FBI Director Comey is heading back to the Hill on Wednesday for another public hearing about Russia’s role in the 2016 election, this time before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The last time Comey testified, in March, he dropped a bomb, confirming to the House Intelligence Committee that the FBI was investigating the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia.
This time should be different, though there may be fireworks. Deleware Senator Chris Coons has promised to ask Comey why he felt it necessary to publicly comment on the FBI probe investigating Hillary Clinton, and not the one investigating Donald Trump. This was the subject of a lengthy recent New York Times investigation that suggested that Comey did so because he expected Clinton to win handily.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has tried to present itself as the grown-up congressional committee, as opposed to the kids’ table in the House. That doesn’t mean that Senate Republicans won’t try to obfuscate—as House Republicans like Devin Nunes and Trey Gowdy did—but it does mean that today’s hearing will likely be less bombastic.
The last time Comey testified in the Capitol, you may recall, Donald Trump had recently made wild accusations that Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower. This was a political own goal on a number of levels, but it was also a gift to the Democrats questioning Comey, who got the FBI director to publicly confirm that the accusation was nonsense. On Tuesday night, Trump once again butted in before an important hearing, this time to give his opinion about Comey himself.
Trump appears to be responding to comments that Hillary Clinton made on Tuesday, in which she identified Comey’s intrusion into the election as one of many reasons why she lost. The dig at Comey—that the FBI director gave a “free pass” to a criminal—twists the knife.
The Russia story has faded from view over the last few weeks, as other stories—North Korea, the GOP’s attempts at repealing and replacing Obamacare, Trump’s 100 days—have dominated the cycle. Even if today’s hearing doesn’t produce much news, it will serve as a reminder that this slow-boiling story isn’t going away any time soon.