The testimony of former FBI director James Comey today was a remarkable moment in American politics. President Trump’s supporters will lean heavily (and rightly) on the fact that that there was no direct accusation of criminal acts against the president, which might be a low bar but it is nonetheless an important one. And Comey vindicated at least one of the White House’s talking points: that the president was correct when he said he was not under direct FBI investigation.
Beyond that, however, this cannot be considered anything but a political disaster for an administration already embroiled in a major scandal of its own making.
In short, the American people were treated to the astonishing sight of a former FBI director repeatedly calling the president of the United States a liar, including twice in the very first minutes of his testimony. Comey then went farther, in effect daring the president to contradict him. When the subject of Trump’s tweet about tapes came up, for example, Comey said: “Lordy, I hope there are tapes.” When Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., curtly asked Comey if he would agree to release his personal notes in exchange for the president releasing any tapes, Comey merely said, “Sure.”