News Analysis: Former FBI chief's hearing latest in major distractions for Trump

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-09 07:00:02|Editor: MJ


Former Director of Federal Bureau of Investigations James Comey speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, in Washington D.C., the United States, on June 8, 2017. James Comey said Thursday during a Senate hearing that Trump in his words did not order the FBI to drop the investigation on former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)

By Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON, June 8 (Xinhua ) -- U.S. President Donald Trump's ongoing scandals are proving to be a major distraction and taking attention away from the president fulfilling his mandate - to jumpstart the nation's still sluggish economy and beef up U.S. national security.

The White House has been under scrutiny since Trump's election, as accusations swirl that the administration is in bed with Russia. The accusations started just days before November's election, when the website WikiLeaks released hacked emails from then rival Hillary Clinton's campaign that contained highly embarrassing information. Many believe the source of the hacked emails was Russia.

Clinton supporters believed this had allowed Trump to hijack the election, although others maintain that Americans knew who they would vote for months in advance of the election, and that the revelations made no difference in their choice of candidates.

The Trump administration denies being tied to the leak or to Russia in any inappropriate way.

All eyes were on former FBI director James Comey on Thursday as he testified in front of Congress, saying that Trump fired him in a bid to shut down the bureau's investigation into possible collusion with Russia.

This and other scandals have dogged the Trump administration since the president was inaugurated in January of this year.

"All of this has taken Republicans completely off message and distracted them from their policy agenda. It is hard to get legislators to focus on healthcare or tax reform when they constantly are being asked about the latest Russia disclosure," Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Darrell West told Xinhua.

Indeed, the billionaire-turned politician promised to revamp a tax system that many businesses believe punishes them and prevents them from hiring, leaving the world's no. 1 economy mired in mediocrity and holding back a robust recovery from the 2007-2008 downturn.

For now, business are positive on the Trump presidency. Silicon Valley, for example, is seeing a major investment boom, and the Nasdaq - the stock exchange where tech stocks are traded - is expected to surge this year.

But the longer these scandals go on, and the longer meaningful legislation like tax reform is postponed, the more chance that this exuberance will wane, experts said.

Trump had also promised to start scaling back on the tsunami of regulations imposed by the administration of former president Barack Obama, which many experts said held back the economy and prevented businesses from expanding and hiring for years.

"The White House is completely occupied by the need for damage control," West said.

Dan Mahaffee, senior vice president and director of policy at the Center for the Study of Congress and the Presidency, echoed those sentiments.

"These scandals are a huge distraction for the White House, both in terms of the legislative agenda, as well as attracting talent to the White House and federal agencies to make the Trump Administration's agenda a reality," Mahaffee told Xinhua.

"This has taken a lot of time out of an already tight legislative schedule, and many talented individuals are thinking twice about entering an administration that needs to fill many open spots as they are concerned both about the impact of any potential scandal on their career or reputation as well as the fact that a growing scandal would require many to hire their own legal counsel, which is an expensive bill in Washington D.C.," Mahaffee said.

"This testimony by Comey will only further this scandal that is hampering his effort to accomplish his political agenda," Mahaffee said.

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