Watching Comey: For some it's a party, including at San Francisco bars

(AP/KTVU) - Politics-obsessed Americans gathered at bars and restaurants Thursday with an excitement normally reserved for the Super Bowl or the World Series, ordering FBI sandwiches and morning shots of Russian vodka as James Comey testified about his dealings with President Donald Trump.

In San Francisco, crowds lined up early at Gino & Carlo in North Beach to watch the Comey hearing, one of many watch parties where bars opened as early as 6 a.m.  One patron told KTVU, with big TV screens in the background, that Trump told Comey he wanted loyalty from him, and that's what he wanted too: Loyalty to the American people to "hear the truth."

Some bars in California open as early as 6 a.m. Elsewhere in the country, especially on the East Coast, the watch parties began at more civil hours, like 10 a.m.

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 to officiate a wedding and wanted to watch the hearing with people. Like others in line, she said she did not support Trump.

A look at some other scenes as people paused from their weekday routines to take in perhaps the most anticipated congressional hearing since the 1970s.

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 at one point, there were as many reporters (four) as 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."


Peoples contributed from Brooklyn. Associated Press writers Ben Nuckols in Washington and Bill Barrow in Roswell, Georgia, contributed to this report. KTVU's Alex Savidge contributed to this report.