Republicans have begun a full-court press bashing the credibility of former FBI Director James Comey before his book is released next week.
That much is evident in the great lengths the Republican National Committee, working with the White House, has taken to draft a 1,000-word talking points memo for President Trump, his administration, and GOP officials across the country to help the Right counter and discredit Comey during his book tour. The effort has also spawned the website “Lyin’ Comey.”
It’s that GOP effort that also exposes the Democrats’ overall lack of affinity for the man behind the coming book tour and TV interview blitz.
According to the talking points, obtained by the Washington Examiner, the RNC makes it clear it is ready to attack any Democrat who may only recently decide to back Comey, a Republican, because of his opposition to President Trump.
“As they inevitably take to the airwaves to bash President Trump’s decision to fire Comey, Democrats should be forced to explain why they take that position now after saying in 2016 and 2017 Comey had damaged the institution of law enforcement and lost all credibility,” the talking points state.
Included in the list is an account of many high-profile Democrats who back in 2016 either called for Comey’s resignation or stated their loss of confidence in Comey for his handling of the FBI’s investigation into the email server of their presidential candidate champion, Hillary Clinton.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., are among those in the list.
Others who said Comey did irreparable damage to the integrity of the FBI included Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Time Kaine, D-Va., and Rep. Maxine Water, D-Calif.
Despite the GOP game plan to take on the Democrats, they don’t seem to be biting.
Kaine said in a recent CNN interview that some of the unflattering things Comey says in his book, made public through excerpts reported by the media, including comparing Trump to a mob boss, have a “ring of truth” to them, but that’s hardly a ringing endorsement of Comey.
Meanwhile, none of the Democratic leadership appears to have come out to celebrate Comey’s book.
Not even the RNC’s counterpart, the Democratic National Committee, has announced plans to counter the GOP’s attack plan, though DNC chairman Tom Perez did call Trump’s decision to fire Comey last spring “a brazen and disgraceful abuse of power.”
A request for comment to the DNC was not immediately returned when asked if there was a strategy to take on the GOP’s talking points.
Even the American people are lukewarm in their feelings about Comey. Only 48 percent of people who responded to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll said Comey was more believable than Trump, though that is higher than the 32 percent who said the opposite. Meanwhile, only 30 percent had a favorable opinion of Comey, 32 percent an unfavorable opinion, and 38 chose not to share one.
There have been some outliers in the Democratic rank-and-file who have stuck out their necks for Comey.
Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., said during a CNN interview last week, that “people will rot in hell for besmirching the reputation, the integrity, and the professional history” of Comey and special counsel Robert Mueller “will rot in hell.”
Mueller was appointed to lead the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election after Comey was fired. His team is also looking into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Clinton, for her part, has stated she has little intention of picking up Comey’s book.
Still seemingly sore about her loss to Trump, Clinton has repeatedly blame on Comey for reopening the email case in late October 2016, right before the November election.
At a recent event in New York, the former secretary of state said, “we may or may not read” Comey’s book when it was mentioned. She was also asked about what questions should be asked about the role Comey played in her election demise, to which she said, “I’ve never spoken to him. I’ve never met him. I’ve never kissed him.”
That was before a clip of his first interview on ABC was revealed in which Comey stated that because he thought Clinton would win the 2016 election, that “was a factor” in why he announced the FBI would be looking in to her emails a second time less than two weeks before the election.
Democrats, as a whole, were more vocal in recent days with their outrage over the treatment of Andrew McCabe, the former deputy to Comey at the FBI, who was fired last month by Attorney General Jeff Sessions less than 48 hours before his planned retirement with a full pension. Extending from the Trump administration’s handling of McCabe, they expressed concern about Trump possibly seeking to undermine the government law enforcement apparatus, mainly the Justice Department and FBI, in what could be a long-term effort to discredit and end the Mueller investigation.
For instance Adam Schiff, ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted, “In the absence of the IG report, it’s impossible to evaluate the merits of this harsh treatment of a 21-year FBI professional. That it comes after the President urged the DOJ to deprive McCabe of his pension, and after his testimony, gives the action an odious taint.”
Further inciting panic was John Dowd, formerly one of Trump’s attorneys, sparked a day of speculation, one day after McCabe was fired, about the future of Mueller’s investigation after he said he prayed Mueller would end his probe.
“I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier,” Dowd said in a text to the Daily Beast. He originally said he was speaking on behalf of Trump, before walking that back, clarifying he was speaking on his own behalf.
Like Schiff, many Democrats were fired up about getting to the bottom of whether McCabe’s ouster was a political hit, but hedged their bets on the IG report.
“Americans deserve to know whether McCabe’s firing was on the merits or politically motivated. I join the growing bipartisan call for AG Jeff Sessions to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee to answer this critical question,” said Booker in a tweet last month.
That report, the basis for McCabe’s firing, came on Friday. It found McCabe “lacked candor” on four separate occasions, including three times while under oath, in connection with a leak to the Wall Street Journal.
It was met by thunderous approval by the commander in chief, who called McCabe was a liar who was “controlled by” Comey.
“DOJ just issued the McCabe report – which is a total disaster. He LIED! LIED! LIED!” Trump tweeted. “McCabe was totally controlled by Comey – McCabe is Comey!! No collusion, all made up by this den of thieves and lowlifes!”
Washington Examiner · by Daniel Chaitin · April 15, 2018