There’s only one thing more highly anticipated in Washington than what former FBI Director James Comey will say Thursday during his first public appearance since President Trump fired him.
It’s what — and if — the president will tweet.
White House aides were reportedly expecting Trump to live-tweet his reaction to the testimony, and they tried to distract him with a full schedule of official events. It was unclear how successful those attempts would be.
But as the minutes ticked by before Comey was expected to take the stand Thursday morning, Trump’s normally active personal Twitter feed had fallen silent. Instead of play-by-play from the president, it featured stale praise for, “THE GREAT STATE OF OHIO,” from Trump’s visit the day before.
Getting ready to leave for Cincinnati, in the GREAT STATE of OHIO, to meet with ObamaCare victims and talk Healthcare & also Infrastructure!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2017
President Trump has been on a tweet-storm in the past week, to the dismay of advisors who have repeatedly warned him that his missives could undermine the White House’s legal positions.
Many of Trump’s recent tweets have focused on the June 3 London terror attacks, his ongoing feud with London’s Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan, and calls on the courts to reinstate his travel ban, a preoccupation of Trump’s early days in office.
The tenor of those tweets — which one British politician referred to as “cheap and nasty” — suggest that he is not in a mood to be diplomatic.
Trump has expressed little goodwill toward Comey, a central figure in the scandals that have derailed the Trump presidency.
Comey is expected to testify about Trump’s alleged attempts to intervene in the FBI investigation of Russian ties to the Trump campaign. The hearing is scheduled to start at 10 am. Thursday.
A recent Newsweek analysis of Trump’s tweets during his first 100 days in office found that Trump was more likely to tweet about the Russia investigation, and the people tied to it, than almost any other topic.
Trump reportedly told Russian diplomats during an Oval office meeting that he thinks Comey is, “a nut job.”
He tweeted on May 12 that “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
Trump’s closest advisors said this week that he planned to continue hitting back.
“He believes in the long run there is an enormous premium on being the person who stands there fighting,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told the Washington Post. “People respond to that and wonder if he’s fighting this hard, maybe he’s right and the other guys are wrong. It’s the core of how he operates.”
One Washington bar planned to open at 9:30 a.m. and offer a round of drinks for every Trump tweet. Others will open early for the event and offer special, Comey-themed cocktails.
“There will be a lot of drunks in Washington,” Rep. Peter King, R-NY, told the TV gossip show TMZ. He added DC could get very swampy if bar patrons drink a round for every Tweet. “I’d say by 10:15 half the city will be bombed.”
In the run up to the big day, Trump had this to say when reporters asked him about Comey’s testimony: “I wish him luck.”