This is the week that You’re Fired former FBI Director and Private Citizen James Comey is scheduled to testify before congress, and let’s just say that there seems to be a bit of interest in whatever it is that he might say. Today we have a clash of Titans as the Villagers gossip mongers have DIFFERENT HOT TAKES!
Tiger Beat on the Potomac (thanks Charlie!) morning email thingie tells us the important news is that the Press is really excited:
— THE HOTTEST TICKET: Fired FBI director James Comey’s public testimony at Thursday’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing is attracting “Monica Lewinsky-esque” levels of interest from the media wanting to cover his appearance, multiple sources confirm. Senate Daily Press Gallery Director Laura Lytle, who started working in the gallery during the Clinton impeachment trial, said the “interest level is very similar” to those hearings. “That’s the busiest I’ve ever seen it … The difference is the news industry has changed. The demand for information needs to be faster and quicker.” Another source involved in the hearings said “the buzz is like the ‘90s” in terms of excitement and seriousness.
…and Mike ‘Payola’ Allen writing Axios’ morning email thingie tells us that the White House is really upset:
White House officials convey a sense of gloomy doom when they talk about fired FBI Director Jim Comey’s public testimony on Thursday. They know his aw-shucks rectitude, combined with real-time written recollections, guarantee riveting testimony. Their hope is that it’ll be more atmospherics than substance — how he felt, as opposed to any new facts about what President Trump said or did.
Here’s the problem with that hope: Even if Comey didn’t have a single new thing to say (unlikely, given his habit of writing memos about his conversations with the president and perhaps his aides), the rat-tat-tat of already-reported, tough-to-explain facts is astounding:
- During a Valentine’s Day briefing in the Oval Office, Trump asks other national-security officials — including Vice President Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions — to leave the room before saying of the investigation into Michael Flynn, the national security adviser Trump had let go the day before: “I hope you can let this go.”
- That meeting, by itself, could be fodder for years of investigations. But then, three months later — after talking for weeks about firing Comey, with several aides warning of the dire dominoes that the move could touch off — Trump does it anyway, taking many top aides by surprise.
- That decision, by itself — with its echoes of Watergate’s “Saturday night massacre” firing of a special prosecutor — might dog Trump for the rest of his presidency. But the next day, Trump meets in the Oval Office with two top Russians, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. U.S. media are barred, but a Russian camera is allowed, and Trump’s guests quickly release the astonishing shots of Trump and the burly Russians appearing to yuk it up.
- That, by itself, would be jaw-dropping, but then Trump is reported to have revealed highly classified information during the meeting. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had a notetaker at the meeting, cheekily offers to release a transcript.
- All that might, by itself, might be hard enough to believe or explain. But then Trump sits down with NBC’s Lester Holt and says that when he was pondering the firing of Comey, “I said to myself — I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.” Holt and his NBC News colleagues had war-gamed all kinds of ways to try to get Trump to say Russia was a factor, but he just said it — no cajoling required.
Be smart: Comey’s testimony may add logs, but the fire is blazing.
…but neither of them really has anything new confirmed revelations to add, so just more gossip.