Former FBI Director James Comey’s prepared opening remarks before the Senate Intelligence Committee were released Wednesday, kicking off a beehive of media attention the day before Comey heads to Capitol Hill.
While the legal and political implications of the testimony for Trump remain unclear, policy analysts say the event — which has been likened to the Super Bowl — will only hurt Trump’s legislative agenda going forward.
“There’s nothing in [the prepared Comey testimony] that’s really new, that we didn’t know from media reports,” Issac Boltansky of political analysis firm Compass Point told Business Insider. “There’s no smoking gun to point to that seems to make a case for obstruction of justice.”
Despite the apparent lack of new information in Comey’s prepared testimony, Boltansky said, the hearing would likely confirm the prior opinions of lawmakers and the public. That could be a hindrance to Trump’s plans for tax cuts, a healthcare overhaul, and infrastructure investments.
“What’s real is that the hands of time continue to fall,” Boltansky said. “This is a sideshow, but it’s a sideshow that comes at a time that threatens the president’s and Republicans’ agenda from getting done anytime soon.”
Greg Valliere, chief strategist at Horizon Investment, agreed that the testimony represents a threat to anything Trump wants to do.
“Both parties will claim their narratives were reinforced, so this mess will drag on and on — and it surely means that the Trump agenda, which is stalled, will stay stalled,” Valliere told Business Insider in an email after the release of Comey’s remarks.
Boltansky said Democrats were likely to make life tough for Trump and the GOP, but there is a stronger case for that resistance now.
“Congress is like the NFL, it’s a copy cat league,” Boltansky told Business Insider. “Democrats saw that obstruction can work, so they know they can block Trump’s agenda by slowing everything down and they can use the Russia investigation as cover to do that.”
In the near-term, Valliere said, the biggest risk comes from Trump’s reaction to the testimony more than anything it will likely contain.
“Let’s see how Trump reacts to this testimony. If he rants tonight and tomorrow, he could suffer more self-inflicted damage,” Valliere wrote, saying Trump should be calm since Comey’s prepared remarks “could have been worse.”
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