Comey Attacks Increase

Ken AshfordClinton Email Faux Scandal, Election 2016, L'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Well, I am definitely buy Comey’s book now. Bit of a Streisand Effect going on with all the GOP attacks on Comey and his book.

Trump today…

As with most of Trump’s tweets, these two are largely fact-free. And Trump, as candidate, PRAISED the way Comey handled the Clinton matter (as did Fox and all Trump surrogates). There is no way that Trump fired him for that — oh wait, we KNOW why Trump fired Comey….

But Trump’s tweets are part of a largetr GOP broadside against who the new RNC-funded website calls “Lyin’ Comey”

However, when put to the people, who do they think is the liar?

Well, a poll from ABC News-Washington Post examined that.

According to the poll, the former FBI director has the edge, as far as trustworthiness.

By a margin of 48 percent to 32 percent, Comey is rated “more believable” than President Trump.

Nearly half–47 percent–of poll respondents said they disapproved of Trump’s decision to fire Comey, compared to only 33 percent who said they approve.

Yes. The NY Times Review of Comey’s book also looks at the match-up of Comey v Trump:

Put the two men’s records, their reputations, even their respective books, side by side, and it’s hard to imagine two more polar opposites than Trump and Comey: They are as antipodean as the untethered, sybaritic Al Capone and the square, diligent G-man Eliot Ness in Brian De Palma’s 1987 movie “The Untouchables”; or the vengeful outlaw Frank Miller and Gary Cooper’s stoic, duty-driven marshal Will Kane in Fred Zinnemann’s 1952 classic “High Noon.”

One is an avatar of chaos with autocratic instincts and a resentment of the so-called “deep state” who has waged an assault on the institutions that uphold the Constitution.

The other chooses his words carefully to make sure there is “no fuzz” to what he is saying, someone so self-conscious about his reputation as a person of integrity that when he gave his colleague James R. Clapper, then director of national intelligence, a tie decorated with little martini glasses, he made sure to tell him it was a regift from his brother-in-law.

One is an impulsive, utterly transactional narcissist who, so far in office, The Washington Post calculated, has made an average of six false or misleading claims a day; a winner-take-all bully with a nihilistic view of the world. “Be paranoid,” he advises in one of his own books. In another: “When somebody screws you, screw them back in spades.”

The other wrote his college thesis on religion and politics, embracing Reinhold Niebuhr’s argument that “the Christian must enter the political realm in some way” in order to pursue justice, which keeps “the strong from consuming the weak.”

The other is a straight-arrow bureaucrat, an apostle of order and the rule of law, whose reputation as a defender of the Constitution was indelibly shaped by his decision, one night in 2004, to rush to the hospital room of his boss, Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, to prevent Bush White House officials from persuading the ailing Ashcroft to reauthorize an N.S.A. surveillance program that members of the Justice Department believed violated the law.

One uses language incoherently on Twitter and in person, emitting a relentless stream of lies, insults, boasts, dog-whistles, divisive appeals to anger and fear, and attacks on institutions, individuals, companies, religions, countries, continents.

Is there any comparison? I would rather have Comey’s character and background than Trump’s any day.

In fact, Trump seems to be PROVING every allegation in Comey’s book. Comey says Trump is untethered from truth; Trump asserts, without proof, that Comey is a perjurer and criminal. Comey says Trump has no respect for institutional values; Trump uses his Twitter account to call a former FBI agent an “untruthful slime ball” and to demand his prosecution, violating longstanding norms against presidential interference in criminal cases. Comey says Trump disputes basic facts and normalizes lying; Trump asserts leaks and perjury without proving them, claims without evidence that Comey was terrible at his job, and without substantiation says there was unanimous support for his firing. Trump also claims he fired Comey for mishandling the Clinton investigation, even though Trump has repeatedly contradicted the official explanation the White House gave for dismissing Comey.

Comey says Trump ignores, excuses, and rewards unethical behavior; Trump, even as he blasts Comey as a perjurer, issues a pardon to former Dick Cheney aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, convicted of lying to federal investigators.

Comey says that Trump takes an us-versus-them mentality and places his own well-being above all else; Trump declares all-out rhetorical war on Comey, after firing him for refusing to clear Trump’s name publicly, and after Comey refused to ease up on a case against Trump’s fired national-security adviser. There is scant need for a fact-checker on a book when the president is eager to prove it right.

At the time, Trump was making a lot of noise about a broken and in shambles FBI, even as agents and others within the bureau were saying the opposite, in regards to their respect for James Comey as director.  You’ll hear more of that in the coming weeks, but it is hard to see how the FBI was in “shambles”. It’s not supported by evidence.

What’s ironic about the tweets is this breaking story…. Trump plans to pardon Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, who was convicted of LYING and also LEAKED the identity of a CIA officer.  This is how the New York Times frames the issue.

Mr. Libby, who goes by Scooter, was convicted of four felonies in 2007 for perjury before a grand jury, lying to F.B.I. investigators and obstruction of justice during an investigation into the disclosure of the work of Valerie Plame Wilson, a C.I.A. officer. President George W. Bush commuted Mr. Libby’s 30-month prison sentence but refused to grant him a full pardon despite the strenuous requests of Mr. Cheney, a decision that soured the relationship between the two men.

A pardon of Mr. Libby would paradoxically put Mr. Trump in the position of absolving one of the chief architects of the Iraq war, which Mr. Trump has denounced as a catastrophic miscalculation. It would also mean he was forgiving a former official who was convicted in a case involving leaks despite Mr. Trump’s repeated inveighing against those who disclose information to reporters.

Interesting that Trump would pardon a liar and a leaker while calling out Comey for being the same.

Why now?

Probably John Bolton, who has long agitated for a pardon is now National Security Adviser. He now has access to the Oval Office.

But another reason?  It’s a signal….

In any event, it seems like Trump supporters are not prepared for this fight:

The FBI Director’s loyalty is not to the President, but to the mission. That’s why Comey (or any director) would stay on.

If these are the arguments, Trump will only “win over” his base.

Here’s five surprises from Comey’s book

1) Trump was obsessed with the so-called “pee tape”

Comey said he first met Trump in person at an intelligence briefing before the inauguration, which is also where he first briefed Trump about the Steele dossier. The memo, compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele and published by BuzzFeed in January 2017, alleges evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Comey writes that Trump was focused on one particularly sordid detail from the dossier: an allegation that a blackmail tape exists of Trump asking prostitutes to pee on a bed in a room the Obamas stayed in at the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow. Per the Washington Post:

The president-elect quickly interrupted the FBI director. According to Comey’s account in a new memoir, Trump “strongly denied the allegations, asking — rhetorically, I assumed — whether he seemed like a guy who needed the service of prostitutes. He then began discussing cases where women had accused him of sexual assault, a subject I had not raised. He mentioned a number of women, and seemed to have memorized their allegations.”

The January 2017 conversation at Trump Tower in Manhattan “teetered toward disaster” — until “I pulled the tool from my bag: ‘We are not investigating you, sir.’ That seemed to quiet him,” Comey writes.

Comey said Trump followed up with him after the meeting in a phone call on January 11, saying the “pee tape” couldn’t be real because he’s a germaphobe. “There’s no way I would let people pee on each other around me,” Comey recounts Trump saying. “No way.”

Trump complained the allegations were painful to his wife, Melania Trump, and that the logistics didn’t make sense, according to the Post:

The president-elect argued that it could not be true because he had not stayed overnight in Moscow but had only used the hotel room to change his clothes. And after Trump explained that he would never allow people to urinate near him, Comey recalls laughing.

“I decided not to tell him that the activity alleged did not seem to require either an overnight stay or even being in proximity to the participants,” Comey writes. “In fact, though I didn’t know for sure, I imagined the presidential suite of the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow was large enough for a germaphobe to be at a safe distance from the activity.”

Comey said Trump brought it up again during their unusual one-on-one dinner on January 27 at which Trump tried to demand loyalty of the then-FBI director:

And then Trump brought up “the golden showers thing,” Comey writes. The president told him that “it bothered him if there was ‘even a one percent chance’ his wife, Melania, thought it was true.” Comey writes that Trump told him to consider having the FBI investigate the prostitutes’ allegation to “prove it was a lie.”

And again on a March 30 call:

“For about the fourth time, he argued that the golden showers thing wasn’t true, asking yet again, ‘Can you imagine me, hookers?’” Comey writes of their March 30, 2017, call. “In an apparent play for my sympathy, he added that he has a beautiful wife and the whole thing has been very painful for her. He asked what we could do to ‘lift the cloud.’”

2) Comey has some things to say about Jeff Sessions

Comey has documented in contemporaneous memos his interactions with Trump, but in his book, he goes into even more astonishing detail. He describes confronting Attorney General Jeff Sessions about leaving him alone with the president. Here’s how Sessions responded, according to Comey:

Sessions just cast his eyes down at the table, and they darted quickly back and forth, side to side. He said nothing. I read in his posture and face a message that he would not be able to help me.

3) Comey is airing his Trump grievances. Like, really airing them.

Comey said he can’t make a judgment on whether Trump attempted to obstruct justice — but he’s not a fan of what he witnessed during his tenure. “I have one perspective on the behavior I saw, which, while disturbing and violating basic norms of ethical leadership, may fall short of being illegal,” Comey writes.

That’s tame compared to some of his other assessments of Trump:

  • “His face appeared slightly orange with bright white half-moons under his eyes where I assumed he placed small tanning goggles, and impressively coifed, bright blond hair, which upon close inspection looked to be all his.”
  • “As he extended his hand. I made a mental note to check its size. It was smaller than mine, but did not seem unusually so.”
  • “I stared at the soft white pouches under his expressionless blue eyes. I remember thinking in that moment that the president doesn’t understand the FBI’s role in American life.”

4) Comey says the Trump administration reminded him of his days prosecuting the mob

“The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control,” Comey writes. “The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth.”

5) Comey defends his handling of the Clinton email investigation — and makes it seem as if everyone else has absolved him too

Comey apologizes to Hillary Clinton, nodding to her own takedown of him in her book What Happened. “I have read she has felt anger toward me personally, and I’m sorry for that,” he writes. “I’m sorry that I couldn’t do a better job explaining to her and her supporters why I made the decisions I made.”

Comey also says President Barack Obama reassured him after the election about his decision to send the letter about Clinton, according to the Post:

Comey writes that Obama sat alone with him in the Oval Office in late November and told him, “I picked you to be FBI director because of your integrity and your ability. I want you to know that nothing — nothing — has happened in the last year to change my view.”

On the verge of tears, Comey told Obama, “Boy, were those words I needed to hear . . . I’m just trying to do the right thing.”

“I know,” Obama said. “I know.”

UPDATE:

UPDATE #2:

Trump also going after fired FBI Director McCabe:

I don’t think anyone except a small circle has seen the McCabe report. I’ll wait for someone else to tell me what it says.

Ah, here we go.  Yup, looks like Trump (who doesn’t read) didn’t read the report:

Trump says that McCabe was controlled by Comey, yet Comey and McCabe contradict each other. So McCabe and Comey can’t BOTH be liars!

By the way, the President is very unhinged today. It’s unseemly.

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