Trump’s 139 days in office—yes, it’s only been 139 days—have been defined by a series of bombshells. Rather than any legislative or foreign policy accomplishments, the firings of Sally Yates, Michael Flynn, and James Comey—along with a number of leaks relating to the Trump campaign’s numerous and highly suspect contacts with Moscow—have defined the administration’s first four-and-a-half months. And yet nothing can quite compare to James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the most anticipated political event in recent memory. Bars in DC are opening at 9:30AM—one is offering a free drink for every Trump tweet—and the news media and members of the #resistance can barely contain contain themselves.
It’s possible—likely even—that we already know the vast majority of what Comey will say (and repeat, over and over again) at today’s hearing. The sworn statement that Comey will deliver before the Committee dropped yesterday and was more explosive than many anticipated. In the statement, Comey confirms that Trump directly asked him for his “loyalty” and that Trump pressured him to “back off” Michael Flynn, who was under FBI investigation. Comey seemingly confirmed that he had told Trump three times (as Trump had claimed in his letter firing Comey) that he was not under FBI investigation, but even this had a twist of the knife—Comey said he told him he was not under investigation but that he could not say so publicly because he would then feel the need to correct the record later. (Trump is surely under investigation now.) Finally, Comey introduced the words “Russian hookers” into the Congressional record by recounting a bizarre conversation he had with Trump about the “pee tape,” which has never seemed so real.
If Comey sticks to this script, it’s possible that Republicans, who are already preparing some weak talking points to push back on whatever happens today, will treat this as a political victory. Similarly, it’s also possible that many who are cheering for Trump’s downfall—and who have been achingly searching for some kind of magic bullet to take down Trump for the last year—will come out disappointed in this scenario. Whatever happens, Trump will survive because he still has the backing of the cynical and craven Republicans in Congress, who are doing so in order to take health care and other benefits away from poor people.
But that shouldn’t distract from the real story here, which is that the sworn statement that was released yesterday is so damning that nothing else really matters. There had been some confusion as to whether or not Trump had obstructed justice before. There shouldn’t be now.