Reality is catching up with President Donald Trump.
The stagecraft included ranking Democratic committee member Adam Schiff wondering aloud about all the "coincidences" involving Trump associates and Russian Federation, as well as Republicans frequently attempting to shift the focus away from Trump and Russian Federation to leaks about Trump to the press.
The FBI has also been investigating ties between Russian Federation and Trump advisers and associates during the campaign.
FBI Director James Comey cautioned against believing reporting on classified information, which he said oftentimes gets the facts wrong.
"We're expecting directors Comey and Rogers to shed light on Russia's active measures undertaken during the 2016 election campaign, the USA government's response, the compilation of the Intelligence Community's January 6 report on these events, and on related questions concerned possible surveillance on Trump campaign associates and on possible leaks of classified information", he said.
Many of Trump's most ardent supporters are unlikely to be swayed by Monday's spectacle.
"James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia", Trump tweeted.
That reality was abundantly clear Monday.
It is not clear how much new information will emerge Monday, and the hearing's open setting unquestionably puts Comey in a hard situation if he's asked to discuss an ongoing investigation tied to the campaign of the president. The Russia hearings came as Trump tried to give a hard sell to Republicans wary of his health care package, a legislative gamble with long-lasting implications for Trump's relationship with his own party.
"But in unusual circumstances, where it is in the public interest, it may be appropriate to do so", Comey said. His approval rating has tumbled to 37 percent, according to a new Gallup poll, down 8 points from a week earlier.
"And that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts".
Spokesman Sean Spicer launched into a series of confounding arguments during his daily briefing.
"Sometimes the newspaper gets it right, but there's a whole lot of wrong information allegedly about classified activities in the newspaper", he said, explaining, "we don't call them to correct it" because the Federal Bureau of Investigation doesn't want to "compound" the damage "bad people" have done.
Trump has been dogged by allegations that his associates had ties to Russian officials. "The American people want and deserve the whole truth about the Trump-Russia connection", she said.
Manafort left the campaign in August, when news reports about his business ties to pro-Moscow Ukrainian oligarchs became a political liability. Flynn was sacked in February for misleading top officials about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the United States.
Comey and Rogers are not expected to reveal much in public about the probes, which include information that is classified Top Secret and also separated into different compartments, each of which requires a separate clearance. Another tweet incorrectly said Comey and Rogers told lawmakers that Russian Federation "did not influence" the electoral process. While the existence of an FBI investigation isn't surprising, it's important to remember how absolutely bonkers this is: a sitting president is being investigated by the FBI for possible collusion with a foreign adversary.
Editors' Note: Julie Pace has covered the White House and politics for The Associated Press since 2007.