Broadcast networks plan to cover former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intel Committee on Thursday, because a monster ratings draw of this magnitude is a terrible thing to waste.
After the White House announced at Monday’s press briefing President Donald Trump would not invoke executive privilege in an effort to block Comey from testifying, the most anticipated Congressional testimony in many viewers’ lifetime was a go; ABC and CBS and C-Span announced their intention to get in on the action, along with the cable news networks; pundits have their money on NBC following suit.
Comey, the reigning king of bombshell news conferences, will be making his first public remarks since Trump sacked him on May 9. Which means it’s the first chance he’s had to talk about that news report he made a memo detailing a conversation in which Trump allegedly asked him to drop his investigation of since-sacked National Security advisor Michael Flynn.
Trump has, since he booted Comey, called him a “showboat” and “grandstander” who needed to go. In a doozy of an interview in May, Donald Trump told Lester Holt he’d asked Comey more than once, when Comey still was FBI director, whether he was under investigation, and had been assured he was not. Once it was over dinner – which Trump said Comey asked for because he wanted to keep his job, though Trump almost immediately walked that claim back.
Trump brushed aside Holt’s question about the timing of the firing, which raised eyebrows, coming as it did while Comey was overseeing an investigation into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russians who meddled in the election. Trump was ready for that one, answering “this Russia Thing , with Trump and Russia, is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost and election. They should have won, and the reason they should have won it is, the electoral college is almost impossible for a Republican to win. Very hard. Because you start off at such a disadvantage. So everybody thinks they should have won the election.”
“When I did this now I said I probably, maybe, will confuse people, maybe I’ll lengthen the time [of the FBI investigation]. In my opinion it should have been over a long time ago, because it’s an excuse.”
Under the circumstances, you can see why TV networks are treating Comey’s Thursday testimony as Must See TV. CBS News, as a for instance, announced Monday its CBS This Morning co-hosts Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell will anchor live coverage of the testimony, expected to begin at 10 AM ET.
They’ll be joined in New York by Face the Nation anchor John Dickerson, chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford, White House correspondent Margaret Brennan, chief congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes, justice and homeland security correspondent Jeff Pegues, and national correspondent Chip Reid.
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