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Bay Area Expert Weighs In On Russia Collusion Congressional Hearings

'This would do tremendous damage to the Republican party if there was even the slightest hint of any sort of collaboration with the Trump campaign'

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    NEWSLETTERS

    On Monday morning, one of the most aniticpated hearings on Capitol Hill in recent memory takes place as FBI Director James Comey will be called to testify before a House Intelligence Committee investigating Russia's hacking of the presidential election. Thom Jensen reports.

    (Published Sunday, March 19, 2017)

    On Monday morning, one of the most aniticpated hearings on Capitol Hill in recent memory takes place as FBI Director James Comey will be called to testify before a House Intelligence Committee investigating Russia's hacking of the presidential election.

    Two Bay Area lawmakers on the committee will be among those questioning Comey: Democrats Jackie Speier and Eric Swalwell. A political expert from San Francisco State University told NBC Bay Area on Sunday it could be one of the most important congressional hearings in U.S. history.

    "This would do tremendous damage to the Republican party if there was even the slightest hint of any sort of collaboration with the Trump campaign," says Robert Smith, a political science professor at SFSU.

    Smith says he hasn't seen anything like it since Watergate.

    Comey will be testifying about whether President Donald Trump or anyone on his campaign team is being investigated for possibly colluding with Russia and influencing the election.

    "I don't know what he's going to say, but this would be unprecedented to think that a president, sitting president, collaborated with an advesary, really, Russia," Smith says.

    Central California Republican Devin Nunes, a Trump transition team member, chairs the House Intelligence Committee and says there is no evidence of collusion. But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, of San Francisco, says there is proof of deception by Trump administrators, and investigations are needed.

    Pelosi says she also wants Comey to make it crystal clear that former President Barack Obama was never involved in any wiretapping of Trump or his team members after an explosive claim by Trump that has many in Congress, including Pelosi, outraged.

    Smith says what happens in the hearing starting Monday will help write history, and he believes Comey will be very careful about how he answers questions about spying and colluding with Russians.

    "Because I think he knows that if there is even the slightest suggestion of that, he knows if there are signs that he's doing that, it could cause disturbances not only in the country, but also the international community as well," Smith says.

    It will be Comey’s first public testimony since Trump took office.

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