Today, in US politics, we are seeing two pieces of political theatre play out. The first is the opening day of the Confirmation Hearings of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. The second was the first hearing into Russian Involvement in the 2016 election, with FBI Director James Comey.
The Supreme Confirmation Hearing would normally be the talk of the town, with Gorsuch making the rounds for the past few weeks bolstering support for his confirmation. Also, with this being likely President Trump’s *least* controversial move in the last two months as President, you would think that the Administration would be trying to focus on this bit of news. The big highlights of the confirmation hearing is Gorsuch’s statements on judicial independence, (especially with Sen. Durbin’s questioning about standing up to the current administration) and integrity. There was also a lot of discussion about Merrick Garland, who was Obama’s choice for Supreme Court replacement but was blockaded by the GOP last year. With the GOP in control of the Senate, unless there is a Filibuster, and I suspect that was actually removed for Supreme Court Justices, the confirmation hearings will come and go and the GOP will install Gorsuch. I do not think that the Democrats will further risk the degradation of the Judicial branch to fight a political battle, but they will threaten for a bit.
Meanwhile, across the Building, was another bit of Theatre that may turn out to be a bit more than just theatre. With Director Comey speaking with Congress, a lot of prerogatives came to the fore as several characters positioned themselves to attack or defend themselves in the brewing Presidential Scandal. The big take aways was that Comey did divulge that there is an ongoing investigation into the 2016 election, Russia’s involvement and potential collusion with the Trump Campaign since July of last year. The other news was that Comey confirmed that the Obama Administration did not wiretap Trump Tower.
The GOP on the board focused on the classified leaks and want to root out whomever is leaking the information to the public. The Democrats are trying to pin the collusion on Trump and his administration. Both got some red meat today for their causes, but it seems that the Democrats have more hay in the news that came out today. They are already demanding why Comey did not divulge this during the election when he publicly commented on the Clinton Email Scandal during the same time. Further, the admitting that there is even an investigation currently ongoing will keep the media focus on this story and not so much Gorsuch in the coming day or so. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) is going to try and make a name for himself in the questioning, and has already drawn the ire of President Trump’s Twitter finger. Schiff tried to tie every bit of news on the Russian/Trump Collusion allegations so that the FBI must respond, which they did as obliquely as possible. For those on the right that this is some type of conspiracy theory, It seems like the people in the room did not take it as such.
At the end of the day, the Comey hearings is more bluster and more theatre, but now with more smoke, a hint of fire, and the media frenzy into the information continues. The smackdown of Trump’s wiretapping allegations towards the Obama Administration was pure rapture for Democrats and many will call it an embarrassment for the White House. Honestly however, I don’t think you can embarrass the President, and he has been unable to be embarrassed for a long time, so that is going to be moot. The fact that the President flagrantly lies is no longer an issue for a majority of Congress, so while people will cluck about it, I would be surprised if it goes anywhere.
Both of these stage shows will continue for a bit, but keep an eye on the Russia investigation, smoke like this doesn’t lead to nothing, and since the FBI has been investigating for 9 months, and still won’t say anything, then it may be time to get comfortable for this very uncomfortable ride.