Turns out that we do not need to wait until tomorrow to find out what James Comey is going to say to the Senate Intelligence Committee, at least where it concerns his opening statement. That can be read in its entirety here.
The long and short of it is this: It confirms everything that we have heard from news reporting, so far. It outlines all the time that James Comey spoke with the President. The President did asks James Comey for his loyalty; the President did ask that he let go of the Michael Flynn investigation; and the President did ask that Comey announce publicly that the President wasn’t under investigation and the Comey do something about the «cloud» that was hanging over the Trump Presidency. Trump also denied in these conversations that he had anything to do with the «hookers» suggested in that dossier.
Here are the most relevant passages from the opening testimony.
As promised, James Comey did not draw any legal conclusions. However, based on his testimony, it is clear that Donald Trump attempted to influence or steer the investigation. He repeatedly asked Comey to lift the «cloud» of suspicion that hung over Trump.
What is not clear from Comey’s opening remarks is if Trump actually did collude with the Russians. Trump may have suggested that Comey do something about the investigation so that Trump could «remove the cloud,» or he could have suggested that Comey do something about the investigation out of fear that Comey was going to find out something.
Based on the opening statement alone, I’m actually inclined to believe the former, which is to say that Donald Trump obstructed justice here because he didn’t want the public to have the perception that he was being investigated, and not necessarily because he feared the results of an investigation. At one point, he did suggest to Comey that it was possible some with «satellite» associations to the campaign (like Carter Page or Paul Manafort, perhaps) could have been involved with the Russians, but that Trump was not, according to Trump.
Anyway, the testimony is not explosive, so much as it is a confirmation of what has already been reported. Senators like John McCain have been saying all along that this information «if true,» is disturbing. This seems to suggest that it is true. The question now is, how many other Republican Senators will also conclude that it is «disturbing,» and is it disturbing enough to them for an obstruction of justice charge and impeachment?
I think that regardless of whether this fits the definition of obstruction of justice — and it certainly seems to do so — when it comes to the GOP, we all know the answer to that. Sadly.