As we await the start of the hearing, here are some things you might want to take a look at:
* The key takeaways from Comey’s prepared testimony
* Steve Benen notes the Trump lies Comey’s prepared testimony exposed:
1. Trump was asked on Fox News last month whether he ever asked Comey for his loyalty. Trump responded, “No, I didn’t.” We now have reason to believe this was a lie.
2. Trump was asked at a White House press conference last month, “Did you at any time urge former FBI Director James Comey in any way, shape, or form to close or to back down the investigation into Michael Flynn?” Trump replied, “No. No. Next question.” We now have reason to believe this was a lie, too.
3. Trump was asked by NBC News’ Lester Holt about the private dinner he had with Comey, and the president said the FBI director “asked for the dinner.” We now have reason to believe this was also a lie.
10:05 – Opening statements by Burr and Warner
10:10 – Burr brings up Comey’s announcement about Clinton investigation.
10:18 – Warner focusing rightly on how the events Comey outlined in his written testimony were followed by Trump firing him.
10:20 – Comey will testify under oath. He will not repeat his written testimony. He is recounting the various reasons that were offered for his firing. Says they defamed him and the FBI.
10:26 – Burr asks specifically if Trump attempted to obstruct justice when he asked Comey to drop Flynn investigation. Comey refuses to draw a conclusion.
10:38: Warner asked specifically what led Comey to feel the need to document his first meeting (and subsequent meetings) with Trump. He responds that he feared Trump would lie about it. Wow! Knew he might need a record to defend himself, the FBI and the investigation. Says he didn’t feel the need to document meetings with Obama or Bush.
10:44 – Comey says that at the Jan 27th dinner he felt that Trump was looking to “get something” from him in exchange for letting him keep his job, ie. loyalty.
10:53 – Risch’s questioning goes to Comey’s quotes that Trump said he “hoped” he would let the Flynn investigation go indicates they were not a directive or an order, so they don’t constitute obstruction of justice. Comey says that when POTUS said that, he took it as an order.
10:55 – Feinstein asks Comey why he was fired – if it was because of the Russia investigation. He says “yes.”
11:13 – Under questioning from Wyden, Comey says that if he had complied with Trump’s request about the Flynn investigation, they would have dropped it. Isn’t that the definition of obstruction of justice?
11:18 – My overall impression is that Comey is being scrupulously honest – even at his own expense at times. For example, when asked why he didn’t respond to Trump’s request that he drop the Flynn investigation, he didn’t simply say, “That is wrong,” he admitted that he was shocked and perhaps didn’t react strongly enough.
11:25 – Comey says that he is the one who, after being fired and the president’s tweets about there being tapes, asked a friend to share his memo about the meeting in the Oval Office with the press.
11:28 – Comey says that Trump never brought up how this country could be protected against the kind of threat posed by the Russian attempt to influence the election.
11:42 – King reviews the three Trump lies Benen noted that are quoted above.
12:07 – Republican members of the committee don’t seem to be challenging the basics of Comey’s testimony and simply are snipping around the edges of things like why he didn’t act more strongly when Trump asked him to drop the Flynn investigation. The main takeaway is that they seem to accept that his accounts are true.
12:18 – Cornyn seems to be implying that, because of Trump’s attempts to get Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn and the firing of Comey didn’t stop the FBI, there is no obstruction. That would be a stretch. I’m not sure that success in impeding an investigation is a necessary component of obstruction.
12:22 – Cornyn zeroing in on the email investigation – was Clinton ever personally the “target” of that? I seem to remember that the FBI never stated that she was.
12:29 – Comey again says that he was fired as an attempt to change the nature of the Russia investigation.
12:33 – McCain comes off as completely confused in conflating the email investigation with the Russian investigation and on two occasions refers to “Comey” when he means “Trump.” He’s sounding a bit senile, frankly.
That’s it. As I said up above, the main conclusion I see is that Comey’s testimony about his conversations with Trump have been accepted as accurate. Republicans simply challenged around the edges about whether or not it rose to the level of obstruction of justice.
When it comes to Comey’s specific statements in the hearing, he made a strong case that Trump wanted loyalty from the FBI director in exchange for his job, that the president directed him to drop the investigation into Flynn and that his firing was an attempt to impede the Russian investigation.