Former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony confirmed his released statement from June 7 which confirmed the leaked memo from the New York Times a few weeks ago. It is certainly an extraordinary moment in American political history to have the former FBI Director testifying before the Senate about his interactions with a sitting president. But there’s not much new here, and it doesn’t seem likely to cause an immediate seismic shift in Trump support in either direction.
A Quinnipiac poll released before the Comey testimony showed President Trump at a low – in that poll at least – of 34% approval rating. Not great for any president, but Trump still has his base intact.
Both sides will have something to take away from the Senate hearing. Trump gets to say he’s not under investigation, at least until someone says otherwise, and he also can hang his hat on the word “hope,” as in: “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.” As of June 9 the president has categorically denied even saying that to Comey, but he also claims that if he did say it he would have been permitted to as president.
Trump’s opposition will continue to call this obstruction of justice. When your boss asks everyone to leave the room and tells you he’s hoping for a desired outcome, there is little room left for interpretation.
None of this will matter until the investigations are complete. If the FBI believes Trump may have attempted to obstruct justice, they will seek out communications and testimony that could corroborate the story, and closely look at the president’s own words and conversations during a meeting with Russian officials the next day. Likewise, Trump will continue to say he’s not under investigation, but he won’t be fully clear of suspicion until the investigation of his subordinates and campaign aides has finished.
There will likely be more leaks and stories about Trump and Russia and Comey, but nothing major will change until Robert Mueller completes his investigation.