When it was announced that James Comey, who was fired as FBI director in May, would be testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, many people across the country had the same thought — I need a drink.
Bars across the country seized the opportunity organising testimony watch parties on Thursday everywhere from Washington, DC, to Houston, Texas.
Business Insider decided to visit the lone bar in Brooklyn that was holding a viewing party — Building on Bond, a cafe-bar mashup in the scenic, tree-lined neighbourhood of Boerum Hill.
We arrived at 9 a.m., about an hour before the testimony began, and one thing was clear — the media was ready for the watch party, even if Brooklynites hadn’t yet shown up.
When I entered the bar and bought an iced coffee, there was just one customer settled in to watch the testimony. Meanwhile, there were close to 10 reporters, videographers, and photographers from various media outlets.
While people were lining up down the block for $US5 vodka shots and “FBI” sandwiches at Shaw’s Tavern in Washington, DC, most people who came into Building on Bond before 10 a.m. were there for their morning cup of coffee.
One college student, grabbing her cup of coffee to go, told me she planned to watch the testimony from the back of her lecture hall.
As the 10 a.m. start time neared, more reporters and locals entered the bar. People who had come to watch and drink were baffled by the increasingly packed room.
“What a party!” one woman said.
“What’s going on?” replied another.
The booze finally started flowing at around 9:45 a.m.
Dennis Villasana, an attorney who lives in New Jersey, was one of the first people to get the party started and order alcohol. Villasana saw Building on Bond on Business Insider’s list of bars showing the testimony, and decided to make the trek to Brooklyn.
“I hate Donald Trump and that’s what it comes down to,” Villasana said.
Aside from Villasana, most people hadn’t travelled far. One local was dodging news cameras so his boss wouldn’t find out why he was skipping work. Another decided to drop by and watch after having been laid off a few months ago. Others knew the owner, and had watched the presidential debates at the bar.
At 10 a.m. — after some struggles with the cable box — the testimony kicked off.
The first mention of Russia was greeted with cheer and what looked like vodka shots at one end of the bar. And, Comey raising his hand to take his oath was met with cheers.
“No tiny hands here!” one bar-goer yelled.
The bars’ scene was unabashedly pro-Comey, or perhaps, just anti-Trump. Two locals who regularly visit Building on Bond offered sotto commentary, while the bar burst into applause and laughter at various Comey lines.
Two hours into the testimony, the bar was still packed. Some people peaked in from the broad glass windows, while others crowded around the door.
It may have not been the booze-soaked scene that seems to have taken over parts of Washington, DC, but, with eyes glued to the screen, the mood had become one of community.
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