This article originally appeared on NBCNews.com
Anti-climatic; that’s what former FBI Director James Comey’s public testimony before the Senate Intelligence committee was.
Most of the thrill of surprise was taken out because he released his statement a day before his hearing. And even before then the media had pieced the narrative together. Then, finally there’s the former FBI Director’s silky smooth professional demeanor. There was no question that he did not foresee and manage with confident ease.
At the end of Comey’s much anticipated public testimony there was nothing remotely resembling a Russia-Trump smoking gun. The most sensational part of the hearing was the repeated reference to President Trump as a liar. For those who are no fans of Trump that was stating the obvious. But for James Comey, steeped in the protocol of Washington D.C., that was some X-rated stuff.
So what can we take away from today’s hearing?
First, the drip, drip, drip continues. Director Comey’s hearing and his released statement continue the storyline of legally questionable actions by President Trump. The connection between Russia and Trump has smelled funny for a while. Today’s testimony did not put a cap on that funky smell but instead fanned it’s stink.
James Comey’s testimony was not an end point. The Russia probe will only accelerate in the public and media sphere now with the appointment of former FBI Director, Robert Mueller, as special counsel. Even the GOP, the President’s own party, is finding it increasingly difficult to have Trump’s back. A point that gets us to the second takeaway from today.
The GOP may not have Trump’s back but they didn’t throw him under the bus either. Texas Senator John Cornyn was masterful at changing the subject at hand and focusing on Clinton’s e-mail server. Then there’s Senator Susan Collins from Maine who also ran interference by highlighting that Comey was actually in the wrong for having passed along his meeting memos to the press via his friend.
Even Senator Marco Rubio, Trump’s one-time arch-nemesis pitched in by stating that he didn’t think Trump impeded the FBI investigation. He admitted that it was a bad idea but that he didn’t think it was criminal.
These Republican Senators and other members of the GOP know something stinks. But they’re taking a pass, at least for now, on opening up the moldy stinky Tupperware that is the Trump-Russia connection. President Trump may not have high approval but his voters make up a key part of the GOP constituency and these elected officials know all too well who they answer to.
The hope for the future of this country, beyond partisan considerations, is that the real Trump-Russia story is aired out and that the drip, drip, drip of information continues to build.