Trump tweeted in two parts that Comey is a “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!” Everyone is remarking on how Trump appears to be emotionally melting down now that news organizations are widely covering Comey’s new book.
But once again, 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.
The original fake pretext that Trump used to fire Comey was enshrined in a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, which recounted that Comey had mishandled the Clinton email probe in a way that was unfair to her. By contrast, today’s version of events highlights that Clinton is “crooked,” apparently meaning Comey mishandled the Clinton case by not prosecuting her alleged criminality. (This is in keeping with Trump’s calls for Clinton’s prosecution since the election.) Now, we all know Trump fired Comey out of rage over the Russia probe. But still, Trump today casually suggested he’s pleased he fired Comey because he failed to “LOCK HER UP!”
Trump’s efforts to cast Comey and law enforcement as soft on Clinton corruption, of course, are all about creating an alt-narrative to discredit Mueller’s investigation, which grew out of the one that Comey previously oversaw. Comey’s new book recounts Trump’s efforts to hamstring or derail that probe by demanding Comey’s loyalty, leaning on him to go easy on former national security adviser Michael Flynn and, ultimately, firing him. NBC News reports that Mueller may be closing in on findings of obstruction of justice, and so Trump’s nonstop lies designed to delegitimize the probe are intensifying.
But the new Post/ABC poll represents a major public vote of confidence in the investigation — and a major repudiation of Trump’s delegitimization of it as a mere “witch hunt.” It finds that 69 percent of Americans support Mueller’s efforts to investigate possible Russia-Trump campaign collusion, and 64 percent 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 Mueller’s 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. Those numbers aren’t that high for Comey, but they are shockingly low for Trump.
The public is recoiling at Trump’s contempt for the rule of law
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.
Trump’s rage-tweets about Comey confirm all of this. And the public repudiation of Trump comes after he and his allies have waged an extraordinary public campaign in the right-wing media and in Congress, both of which have been weaponized to create a fictional narrative designed to shield Trump from accountability, by casting the Russia investigation and the institutional processes undergirding it as hopelessly corrupted to their core. Yet the public is siding with the rule of law and our institutions, and against Trump. As the Trump-Comey feud comes to the fore, this is the larger narrative unfolding in the background.
“No one, to my recollection, asked, ‘So what’s coming next from the Russians? How might we stop it? What’s the future look like?'”
And of course, since then, Trump has repeatedly refused to acknowledge Russian sabotage happened at all and hasn’t organized a serious response to future sabotage.
Letting his investigation run its course is in the best interest of the country, and it is the only option to ensure that the American people have trust in the process. … if the president actually removes the special counsel without good cause, it would likely result in swift, bipartisan backlash and shake the country’s faith in the integrity of our legal system. … The result would not be good for the American people, the Republican Party or the president.
If this is true, then surely Republicans in Congress will immediately set about passing this bill, right?
Such a program would be time-consuming and costly and would come as the budget deficit continues to increase. Farmers say that Mr. Trump’s threats have already hurt them by causing the price of futures contracts to fall. They maintain that the easiest way to help them is to avoid a trade war with China in the first place.
Trump advisers say a final decision on tariffs could come in several months, meaning a trade war could be in full swing as we head into the midterms.
* TRUMP’S ANNOUNCEMENT ON TPP SURPRISED ADVISERS: Trump now says we should consider rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The Times reports:
Mr. Trump’s reconsideration of an agreement he once denounced as a “rape of our country” caught even his closest advisers by surprise … Larry Kudlow, Mr. Trump’s top economic adviser, said in an interview … that the request to revisit the deal was somewhat spontaneous. “This whole trade thing has exploded,” Mr. Kudlow said. “There’s no deadline. We’ll pull a team together, but we haven’t even done — I mean, it just happened a couple hours ago.”
Even Kudlow plainly had no idea this was coming.
* WHY TRUMP MIGHT TRY TO REJOIN TPP: Trump explains his latest gyrations:
Does anyone think Trump has any actual ideas about how to make TPP better, rather than merely seeing this through the prism of his imaginary ongoing competition with President Barack Obama?
There’s this, plus a contested GOP-held seat in Nevada, and possibly two in Arizona (because of John McCain’s poor health). As Bacon notes, Dems may lose one or more of their 10 at-risk seats. But all these new openings mean such losses could be offset and creates a route to a Senate takeover that is at least plausible.
The answer, all too often, has involved what we might call motivated gullibility. Centrists who couldn’t find real examples of serious, honest conservatives lavished praise on politicians who played that role on TV. … the same bothsidesism that turned Ryan into a fiscal hero played a crucial role in the election of Donald Trump. … it wouldn’t have been close if much of the news media hadn’t engaged in an orgy of false equivalence.