DC Bars Break Out the Covfefe for Comey Hearing Parties | NBC 10 Philadelphia
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DC Bars Break Out the Covfefe for Comey Hearing Parties

The hearing blared on televisions mounted throughout the bars and on the patios

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    It's so very Washington, D.C.: Bars that hosted viewing parties for the Comey hearing Thursday were mostly standing-room-only, just like the hearing itself. At Shaw's Tavern, the line to get in stretched down Florida Avenue. "People around the country are like, 'Why are they opening early? Why are people going to a bar at 9 in the morning?' but it's something we know here in D.C. has become very common," said Eric Heidenberger, owner of Shaw's Tavern. News4's Mark Segraves hit the bars to see the scene.

    (Published Thursday, June 8, 2017)

    Forget sports bars — it was all about politics at watering holes in the nation's capital as fired FBI Director James Comey testified before Congress.

    Shaw's Tavern in Washington opened early and attracted a line of waiting customers seeking to watch the former FBI director's congressional appearance. A special menu was offered for occasion, with the sandwich, the vodka and Covfefe coffee - a coffee with whipped cream and cinnamon. The hearing blared on televisions mounted throughout the bar and on the patio. 

    "This is massive,'' said Dani Robillard, 42, of San Francisco, who lined up outside Shaw's. She said she was in town for a wedding and wanted to watch the hearing with people. Like others in line, she said she did not support Trump.

    Todd Shaffer, 55, a commercial real estate agent in the crowd at Shaw's, predicted that little would get done in the nation's workplaces.

    "No one is working today,'' he said. 

    That was true for Stephanie Williams, 22, of McLean, Virginia, who took the day off from her job as a public health intern. 

    "This is the kind of thing our children are going to be talking about in history classes,'' she said. 

    Orlando Lopez, 32, a self-employed Lyft driver, said he took time off as well. 

    "I think there was obstruction of justice,'' he said. "I would like to see that come to light.'' 

    Asked what he planned to order at Shaw's, he said: "I'd like to get a white Russian.'' 

    The crowd at Shaw's grew quiet when the hearing began, but patrons reacted to key moments, with some applauding when Comey said Trump's administration spread "lies, plain and simple'' and "defamed'' him and the FBI. 

    "When he called the president a liar basically, that was impressive,'' said Caitrin McKee, 35, of Silver Spring, Maryland. "I think (Trump) deserves to be impeached, and this could be the beginning.''

    Other bars across the District also joined in on the watch party fun. 

    "Starting at 10 a.m. anytime Donald Trump tweets about the hearing we will give a free round of drinks to everyone that's in here," said Ashley Saunders, general manager at Union Pub on Capitol Hill.

    Even if that means hundreds will turn out, "it'd be great," she said. 

    Trump remained silent during the hearing, likely disappointing many patrons. But despite Trump's silence, Union Pub still gave its guests a free beer anyway, Washingtonian reported.  

    Rob Heim, Shaw's general manager, said this isn't the first time politics has been a big draw for the bar.

    "We definitely had more people for election night than the Super Bowl," he said.

    The hearing is Comey's first congressional appearance since he was fired by President Donald Trump last month. The testimony comes amid investigations by the FBI and congressional committees into the scope of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    In a statement to the intelligence committee released on Wednesday, Comey detailed a handful of one-on-one interactions with Trump that he said made him uneasy. The president had demanded his loyalty, had tried to create a "patronage relationship," and asked him to back off an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Comey alleged. Comey also confirmed Trump's assertion that he assured him Trump was not a target of the FBI's investigation into Russia's meddling and possible collusion by Trump's campaign.

    At Duffy's Irish Pub in D.C., a large-screen TV on the patio and 15 TVs inside were tuned in as lawmakers pressed Comey on his prepared testimony. Duffy's also served "Covfefe cocktails."

    Another bar, The Pug on H Street NE, said in a Twitter post Monday they would open at 11 a.m., but "given the gravity of Thusday's Comey hearings," their TVs will be showing HGTV or "Law and Order" re-runs.

    Commissary, located near Logan Circle, encouraged everyone to gossip about the Comey hearing over bottomless brunch.

    Bottomless mimosas, bloody marys and sangria were served for $15. The bar also offered a $5 "Conspiracy and Covfefe" drink, which features American beer and a shot of Russian vodka.

    Lastly, the Partisan and Red Apron Butcher, located on D Street in Penn Quarter, served specialty drinks called "The Last Word" and "Drop The Bomb."

    Breakfast was also served for those who got a little hungry during the Comey viewing party.

    Back at Union Pub, Saunders took a political tact herself in talking about the fixture's clientele. Her customers are both pro- and anti-Trump, she said. 

    One Washington bar that did nothing special was in the lobby of Trump's hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the Capitol. 

    Of the four TVs at the bar, three were tuned to Fox News coverage of the hearing, while the fourth showed French Open tennis. The TVs were muted, with quiet jazz playing over the lobby's sound system. That meant anyone who wanted to follow Comey's remarks had to read the captions. 

    Plenty of velvet and leather seats at the bar were available, and one point, there were as many reporters (four) as there were ordinary people having a drink and watching the hearing. 

    Ravi Nallamothu and his wife, Padmaja Manyam, both 39-year-old physicians and Trump supporters from Napa, California, said they decided to have a drink at the bar and watch the hearing because the line at the nearby National Archives was too long. They wanted to see the hotel while they were in town. 

    "It is Trumpian,'' Manyam said. 

    Nallamothu said he read Comey's prepared remarks, concluding,"I don't think there's much there.''

    "I think it's political theater,'' he said. "I don't think there's much they're going to get out of it.''