What the new GOP offensive against James Comey is really about

Former FBI Director James Comey’s new book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership won’t be out until next week, but it’s already number one on Amazon, tidbits from leaked copies are making the rounds, and Comey is planning a round of high-profile promotional media appearances. This is no doubt driving President Trump around the bend, which helps explain why the White House, the Republican Party, and Trump’s allies in the conservative media have begun a highly organized campaign to discredit or even destroy Comey.

How organized is it? CNN reports:

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. [CNN]

To be honest, it’s a little disappointing that “Lyin’ Comey” was the best they could come up with. We already had “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz after all, so it seems rather unoriginal. But in this battle for public opinion, they have to convince people that Comey is lying, or the whole enterprise fails.

Furthermore, there’s a purpose underneath the effort to discredit Comey that may not be immediately apparent: They need to provide a justification, or at least some measure of cover, for when the president moves against Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

That doesn’t mean that Trump has decided he will, or when, or how. He probably hasn’t. And Trump’s allies don’t know for sure what he’s going to do. They’re taking cues from his tweets and public statements just like everyone else. But they know what he might do, and what he wants to do, because we all do.

Trump wants to be rid of Mueller, that is for sure. If he finally overcomes the objections of all the aides telling him it would be politically suicidal, he could do it by replacing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller’s investigation, with someone more loyal and compliant; that person could then fire Mueller. Or he could replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose successor could take over responsibility for the probe and then fire Mueller.

Where does Comey fit in? Comey’s statements about Trump, particularly that the president pressured him to leave former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn alone, are likely to be key to any case Mueller tries to make that the president committed obstruction of justice (fortunately for Mueller, Trump admitted on national TV that he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation). And there are plenty of unflattering details of their relationship in leaked copies of the book. Comey reportedly writes that dealing with Trump gave him “flashbacks to my earlier career as a prosecutor against the Mob. The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, …read more

Source:: The Week – Politics


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