There will be a special viewer as FBI Director James Comey faces a public hearing of the #House Intelligence Committee today in relation to the allegations of Russian interference and also regarding the accusation that the Obama Administration wiretapped Trump Tower during the election campaign. Undoubtedly President #Donald Trump will be watching Comey’s sworn testimony very closely because his replies will have a direct effect on the political future of the Oval Office.
During the election campaign #The Director of the FBI was a hero for the Republicans and a villain for the Democrats. His decision to publicly reopen the Bureau’s investigation of the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was Secretary of State during the final stage of the campaign was seen by many as a deciding factor in Donald Trump’s surprise win.
The subsequent revelation that the Bureau was also investigating the allegations of Russian interference in the election in favour of Donald Trump gave rise to accusations by the Democrats that he had played a political role in the election at odds with the neutrality expected by his position.
Despite these comments the incoming President confirmed Comey in his position but fate then played a hand as another issue arose that again put the Director in the unwanted public spotlight.
Two weeks ago President Donald Trump sent a number tweets that alleged that the Obama Administration had ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower during the election. This claim was immediately denied by a spokesman for the former President.
Subsequently Comey asked the Justice Department to issue a statement that the alleged wiretapping had never occurred. Such a statement was never released.
The accusations contained in the tweets have dominated the headlines since then and even involved Britain when #White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer repeated a statement heard on Fox News that the British Secret Services had undertaken the wiretapping for President Obama. This is still cause of discomfort between the two long term allies.
An increasing number of Republicans, including David Nunes, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee that Comey will today face, have stated their belief that there is no proof of such wiretapping.
Today Director Comey will face the House Committee in a public sitting and will have to answer questions on these matters. Amongst these questions will without doubt be queries by Democrats on the apparent difference of behaviour by the FBI Director between the investigation of Hillary Clinton and that of Donald Trump.
The sitting will be difficult for the Director and since the testimony will be under oath Comey will be unable to avoid questions that are as much about the issues as they are about the perceived political role taken by the Bureau’s Director in these investigations.
Depending on what the Justice Department supplied the Committee as proof of the wiretapping allegations Comey’s testimony has the real potential of further weakening public trust in the Oval Office by the Capitol and the public.
At the time of writing only one thing is certain, with the testimony under oath and the documentation provided by the Justice Department the time of accusations and doubts are about to come to an end. The White House has had the opportunity to present proof of President Trump’s accusations and there will be no more opportunity for doubts on this matter.
As of today it will no longer be enough to label unpleasant questions as “fake news”. Answers must be provided and if they are not then there will be consequences legal and political.
Depending on his replies, by the end of the day the Oval Office will consider #James Comey a “hero” or a “villain”. His answers will decide which, just as they will also affect the White House’s immediate political future.
It may well be the beginning of a long and difficult week for both the FBI and the Oval Office.