Republicans are out to get former FBI director James Comey (a Republican) because of his new book.
The ad is “Paid for by the Republican National Committee” and since their candidate in 2020 is Trump, this is about Trump.
And why are Trump’s people doing this? Because Trump is facing obstruction charges for firing Comey. Now we KNOW why Trump fired Comey, and it WASN’T because of the way he handled the Clinton email investigation (the thing that Democrats were pissed about). It was because of the Russia investigation and Trump said so when asked, in a recorded interview with Lester Holt.
Comey has a memoir coming out Tuesday. The White House is bracing for Comey to share his story, with aides fearful of how the President will react and how it could influence the escalating Mueller investigation. The well-orchestrated RNC strategy could, of course, be upended by the President himself through a tweet or off-the-cuff comments about Comey.
The battle plan against Comey, obtained by CNN, calls for branding the nation’s former top law enforcement official as “Lyin’ Comey” through a website, digital advertising and talking points to be sent to Republicans across the country before his memoir is released next week. The White House signed off on the plan, which is being overseen by the Republican National Committee.
“Comey is a liar and a leaker and his misconduct led both Republicans and Democrats to call for his firing,” Republican chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement to CNN. “If Comey wants the spotlight back on him, we’ll make sure the American people understand why he has no one but himself to blame for his complete lack of credibility.”
While it’s an open question how successful Republicans will be in making their case against Comey, given that Trump unceremoniously dismissed him last May 9, there is no doubt that many Democrats remain furious at how the former FBI director treated Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Republicans hope to remind Democrats why they disliked Comey by assailing his credibility, shining a new light on his conduct and pointing out his contradictions — or the three Cs.
I think Comey made a mistake with his public pronouncements regarding the Hillary investigation, especially since (we now know) that there was an investigation in Trump which he was mute about.
Moreover, I think Comey is AWARE he MIGHT have made a mistake, and is genuinely troubled by that prospect. I think that DOES make him an honorable man. I don’t think the smear attempts will work. Especially on Democrats who, unlike Republicans, can see through that tactic.
This display of disingenuous bad-faith nonsense mirrors what we’ve seen right from the top. Trump himself absurdly used Comey’s handling of the Clinton email probe as his phony pretext for firing Comey, even though he had wielded Comey’s criticism as campaign ammo. Now he’s going to cite it to delegitimize Comey’s criticism of his own conduct in trying to obstruct and derail the investigation into his and his cronies’ conduct, a good deal of which is a matter of public record at this point.
Republicans will muddy the waters further around this by pointing out that Democrats criticized that Comey conduct then, and by arguing that they are merely making the same argument now that Democrats did. Republicans will say on this basis that if Democrats currently seize on Comey’s criticism of Trump, it’s inconsistent. But there simply isn’t an equivalent inconsistency here. The Democratic argument is that Comey’s conduct toward Clinton was wrong — their argument is still the same on this front — and that Comey’s current testimony about Trump’s conduct has legitimate revelatory value.
This is the nuanced thinking that Trump and his followers simply cannot understand. That you can disagree with Comey’s handling about ONE thing and agree with his handling of ANOTHER thing, and not be inconsistent.
We should of course reserve judgment about the second point until we hear what Comey has to say. But there’s nothing inherently contradictory or inconsistent about making those two arguments simultaneously. Both of them can easily coexist as correct. Comey’s current claims very well may have inherent news value for what they tell us about the current president’s conduct — we can evaluate these claims against an existing set of known facts about that conduct — and there’s no reason that critics of Comey’s previous conduct toward Clinton are somehow disqualified from saying so.
Republicans are not simply offering an argument that is the partisan inverse of the Democratic argument. If they were doing that, they’d say something like, “Comey was right when he criticized Clinton, but he’s wrong about Trump.” But they are saying something different, something like this: “Even though we cited Comey’s criticism of Clinton at the time, we’re now saying he was wrong to offer it, which proves his criticism of Trump is not to be believed.”
This is just the old Republican fog machine at work. And it may be effective. But observers who succumb to the seductive idea that there is an equivalence in partisan rhetorical gamesmanship here will just be rewarding the asymmetric disingenuousness and bad faith that suffuses the GOP argument, by helping to spread the confusion — and distraction from potentially legitimate revelations about Trump’s conduct — that it is designed to sow.
Even Trump TV is getting in on the action — putting Comey ON TRIAL!
How Fox News is reacting to Comey’s book tour: A Sunday night special titled “The Trial of James Comey.” Spot features host Steve Hilton asking, “is he guilty of federal crimes?” pic.twitter.com/hQU85bGVwY
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) April 12, 2018
UPDATE: A Trump tweet from 6 minutes ago sounds like a hostage video —
I have agreed with the historically cooperative, disciplined approach that we have engaged in with Robert Mueller (Unlike the Clintons!). I have full confidence in Ty Cobb, my Special Counsel, and have been fully advised throughout each phase of this process.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 12, 2018
That does not sound like Trump’s writing.