Why Team Putin is likely pinned to Comey's testimony

Russia to watch Comey testimony

MOSCOW -- Former FBI Director James Comey's testimony to the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee wasn't a big story in the Russian media early on Thursday, but as CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports, President Vladimir Putin and his senior advisors were likely watching closely.

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The Russian interest is born not so much out of the potential impact Comey's testimony could have on the FBI investigation into Russian meddling in U.S. politics -- something the Russian government is indeed concerned about -- but rather out of the potential affect it could have on President Trump's standing and the credibility of his administration.

Russia had hoped Donald Trump would be the man to restore better relations between the U.S. and Moscow. President Putin has gone out of his way to support Mr. Trump publicly -- most recently when Putin told CBS News last month in Sochi, on camera, that it was the U.S. leader's prerogative to fire the FBI Director.

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Since Mr. Trump took office in January, however, things have backfired on Moscow. Relations are more poisonous now than at any time since the Cold War.

The Russians are hoping that Presidents Putin and Trump will meet face-to-face at the G-20 Summit in Germany in July, and that the encounter might turn out to be the long-awaited re-set moment between the two nations.

President Putin and his staff will be following Comey's testimony very closely, to see if it throws up anything that might scupper that crucial meeting, or further limit Mr. Trump's ability to deliver better relations -- and ultimately the lifting of U.S. sanctions against Russia that Moscow is so keen to see.