April 16, 2018
With enemies like this, who needs friends? President Donald Trump angrily counter-punched at James Comey on Twitter on April 13—catapulting the former FBI director’s book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, onto best-seller lists even before its April 17 release date, through pre-orders.
In a two-part tweet, Trump labeled Comey as a “proven LEAKER & LIAR” and an “untruthful slime ball” who botched his handling of “the Crooked Hillary Clinton case,” and added: “It was my great honor to fire James Comey!”
Indeed, according to a Washington Post opinion piece by Greg Sargent, “Everyone is remarking on how Trump appears to be emotionally melting down now that news organizations are widely covering Comey’s new book.”
What’s more, the American people are not behind him. A Washington Post/ABC News poll released on April 13 determined that 69% of Americans support Mueller’s efforts to investigate possible Russia-Trump campaign collusion, and 64% support Mueller’s investigation of Trump’s business activities, which, you may recall, Trump declared as a red line that Mueller mustn’t cross. It even finds that 58 percent support the investigation of hush money paid to women who alleged affairs.
What about public attitudes toward Comey? Well, the poll finds that Americans see Comey as more believable than Trump by 48-32 and disapprove of Trump’s firing of Comey by 47-33.
And, according to Sargent, “Trump appears to be making an actual argument underneath all the all-caps bluster that should not go unnoticed. He is suggesting that he retrospectively relishes having fired one of the nation’s chief law enforcement officials, at least in part because he did not prosecute his political opponent [Clinton].”
The original fake pretext that Trump used to fire Comey was enshrined in a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, Sargent says, which recounted that Comey had mishandled the Clinton email probe in a way that was unfair to her. By contrast, Trump’s Twitter version of events highlights that Clinton is “crooked,” apparently meaning Comey mishandled the Clinton case by not prosecuting her alleged criminality.
According to the Post’s The Plum Line columnist, the poll represents a major public vote of confidence in the investigation — and a repudiation of Trump’s delegitimization of it as a mere “witch hunt.”
He concludes, “It’s tempting to see this polling as little more than a reflection of Trump’s deep unpopularity. But numbers this stark suggest something else may be going on: that the depth of Trump’s contempt for our institutions and the rule of law is becoming clear to the public, and Americans are recoiling at it.”
Research contact: @theplumlinegs