Despite the media building up James Comey's testimony as a major news extravaganza, the event now appears likely to create little more than a fizzle.
A source close to the former FBI director is trying to tamp down growing expectations that Thursday, when Comey is set to testify, will mark the beginning of the end of Trump's nascent administration, CNN is reporting.
"A source close to Comey is now telling me that he does not anticipate that Comey will come to any legal conclusions about whether President Trump’s actions in his meetings with Comey constituted obstruction of justice," Jake Tapper reported Tuesday.
"The source says Comey will be there as a fact witness and will leave the legal analysis for others," Tapper said. "As far as any big dramatic revelations, the source also suggests, quote, 'the center of gravity is going to be what’s already out there' — that is, the request that the president made according to Comey that he lay off Michael Flynn when it came to the Russia probe and also him asking Comey for a pledge of loyalty.”
This news will no doubt come as a blow to some of Tapper's major media colleagues, many of whom have said a declaration that Trump obstructed justice could mark the first step toward the president's impeachment.
"What do you think of this impeachment possibility?" Chris Matthews recently asked a Democratic senator. "What’s more needed to prove obstruction of justice than the president fires the guy coming after him after asking him to drop the case?"
ABC's Joy Behar asked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi if Comey's testimony will amount to "grounds for impeachment."
CNN is even billing Thursday hearing as "Washington's Super Bowl."
There's good reason Comey will likely avoid making any such declaration. Doing so, as columnist Charles Krauthammer, has argued, would essentially be self-indicting, as Comey would have had an obligation to act on such purported misbehavior.
That, coupled with the non-stop media hype, likely explains why Comey's team is now trying to dampen the excitement for his Thursday appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee.