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FILE PHOTO: FBI Director James Comey testifies before the House Intelligence Committee hearing into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo(reuters_tickers)
By Ian Simpson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Bar keepers coast to coast offered breakfast specials like "impeachmint" cocktails and $5 Russian vodka shots on Thursday as they tuned their wall-mounted TV sets for live broadcasts of former FBI chief James Comey's congressional testimony.
From Capitol Hill to San Francisco's Castro district, television "watch parties" beckoned political junkies away from the morning rush hour to taverns, restaurants and living rooms to view an event some likened to the "Super Bowl of Washington."
Comey, fired by President Donald Trump last month while leading a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into Russian meddling in last year's U.S. presidential election, was slated to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT).
In an advance copy of his written testimony released on Wednesday, Comey said Trump privately asked him to drop an investigation of his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, as part of the Russia inquiry.
The high-stakes political drama of the occasion has drawn the kind of communal public interest more often associated with major sporting events and awards shows.
The Axelrad Beer Garden in Houston was typical in its cheeky online promotion of the event.
"Join us for an early morning beer and engage in friendly debate with fellow patrons," a post on the Axelrad Facebook page said. The bar is also serving a drink called the impeachmint.
In Washington, Shaw's Tavern was one of several bars promising to open its doors a half hour before Comey begins speaking, with a $10 "FBI" breakfast special - French toast, bacon and ice cream.
The Union Pub in Washington planned to buy patrons a round of drinks every time Trump, a frequent Twitter user, tweets during Comey's testimony.
Several San Francisco bars planned to open as early as 6 a.m. PDT to allow patrons to gather for the testimony.
"It's important for us to be well informed," said bartender Darren "Buddy" Jaques at the Mix, where the TV will be tuned in to the hearing.
Not all the excitement was playing out in pubs.
Corrigan Vaughan, 31, a doctoral student in Anaheim, California, invited friends over to sip mimosas, nibble some eggs and savour Comey's every word at a California house party set to began at 7 a.m. PDT.
"We want to actually sit and watch this," Vaughan said. "Especially for millennials. We feel more personally connected to this one."
(Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Paul Tait)