Five notes on Trump's current predicament

1. It’s not about collusion anymore

Fired FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee marked the full shift of the Trump-Russia investigation from a probe dedicated to discovering collusion to a probe dedicated to proving the president obstructed justice. (See “At this rate, it won’t matter if Trump colluded with Russia.”) Democrats at the Comey hearing barely touched on collusion, which appears to have turned out to be a dry hole. When it did come up in Comey’s appearance, it was during questioning from Republicans, who wanted to highlight their point that collusion — the core of the case and the reason everybody got so excited in the first place — has so far turned out to be nothing.

To Democrats, that no longer matters. Now, it’s all about obstruction of justice, or alleged obstruction of justice, or fantasized obstruction of justice, depending on your partisan perspective. Senate Democrats focused almost exclusively on obstruction in their questioning of Comey, and their House counterparts are sure to do the same. As far as the Justice Department investigation of the president is concerned, we know that as of the time Comey was fired on May 9, there was no investigation of the president concerning collusion, which strongly suggests that after 10 months of probing, authorities had nothing against him on that issue. Now, however, after the Comey memos and the Comey firing, it seems safe to predict that special counsel Robert Mueller will investigate Trump for obstruction. So it is a new game, even if Republicans keep trying to play the old one.