James Comey testimony: A guide to Thursday's Senate hearing

When does James Comey testify?

The former FBI director testifies at 10 a.m. Eastern time Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Why is it a big deal?

This is Comey's first public testimony since President Trump fired him in early May. Democrats want to know whether Trump fired Comey as a way to sidetrack the FBI's investigation into Russian meddling on the 2016 election. If Comey says Trump did, Republicans will want to know why he didn't speak up before.

How can I watch?

The cable news networks will all air significant portions of the hearing, but if you really want gavel-to-gavel coverage, it will be airing on C-SPAN 3, and we will be live-streaming on usatoday.com.

Can I go in person?

You can — there will apparently be limited public seating available (Room 216 in the Hart Senate Office Building) — but keep in mind that there is likely to be a long line for very few seats.

Who are the key people to watch?

The chairman of the committee, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and the top Democrat, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., have been careful to proceed in a very collegial bipartisan manner, unlike the House Intelligence Committee, which has been riven by partisan tension. It will be interesting to see how they interact with the cameras rolling.

It is also worth noting that the senators on the committee will represent a broad ideological spectrum: John Cornyn, R-Texas, is the second-ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate and was himself considered a top candidate to replace Comey at the FBI until he withdrew his name from consideration last month; Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., serving in her first year in the Senate, has been a vocal part of the Democratic "resistance" to Trump's presidency.

Looking for an appetizer?

The same committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on U.S. surveillance laws, featuring Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. This is Rosenstein's first public testimony since appointing former FBI director Robert Muller as special counsel to run the Russia investigation, though he did brief Congress privately about that decision May 18. Not directly related, but there are senators and television cameras present, so you can expect Rosenstein to be asked about that decision.



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