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America's “presidential” president…


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« on: April 14, 2018, 10:37:58 pm »


from The New York Times....

Trump Calls Comey ‘Untruthful Slime Ball’ as Book Details Released

President Trump, who fired James B. Comey as his F.B.I. director, took
to Twitter on Friday morning to disparage him as a leaker and liar.


By MICHAEL D. SHEAR and ALEXANDER BURNS | 7:31PM EDT — Friday, April 13, 2018

James B. Comey last year at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. — Photograph: Al Drago/The New York Times.
James B. Comey last year at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. — Photograph: Al Drago/The New York Times.

WASHINGTON — James B. Comey's searing tell-all book was met with an aggressive counter-attack on his character by President Trump and his allies on Friday, even as many Democrats struggled with conflicted feelings about the man they blame for Hillary Clinton's loss in the 2016 election.

In the book, Mr. Comey, whom Mr. Trump fired as F.B.I. director in May, describes the president as “unethical, and untethered to truth,” and writes that he often wondered about Mr. Trump's refusal to acknowledge Russia's attempt to influence the election. “Maybe it was a contrarian streak,” he wrote, “or maybe it was something more complicated that explained his constant equivocation and apologies for Vladimir Putin.” He also compares the president to a Mafia boss.

Pointed details from the book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership leaked out Thursday night before its official release on Tuesday. The response from the president was personal and vicious, even by Mr. Trump's standards.

In two early-morning tweets, the president called the former F.B.I. director an “untruthful slime ball” and a “proven LEAKER & LIAR.” Mr. Trump said that it was his “great honor to fire” Mr. Comey.






Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, escalated the criticism later in the day, saying Mr. Comey will “be forever known as a disgraced partisan hack that broke his sacred trust with the president of the United States.”

The Republican National Committee joined in with an all-hands effort to discredit Mr. Comey by distributing lengthy talking points to conservative pundits, sympathetic media hosts and Republican lawmakers.

The message was coordinated with the White House's and echoes Mr. Trump's. “Comey is a liar and a leaker, and his misconduct led both Republicans and Democrats to call for his firing,” said Ronna McDaniel, the committee chairwoman.

The talking points describe Mr. Comey as a “disgraced former official” and a “consummate Washington insider who knows how to work the media to protect his flanks.” It says that Mr. Comey was “strongly criticized by members of both parties for his history of bizarre decisions, contradictory statements and acting against Department of Justice and F.B.I. protocol.”

The committee created a “Lyin' Comey” website and sent out mass emails to reporters litigating the claims in his book and interviews.

Foreshadowing the attack Mr. Trump delivered on Friday, the committee's talking points branded Mr. Comey as a leaker consumed with grievances against Mr. Trump and listed Comey-bashing quotes from Representative Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, the current Democratic leaders in the House and Senate.

Mr. Comey will have an opportunity to respond to his critics during a book tour that will take him to venues across the country. His first major interview, with ABC News, is scheduled to be broadcast on Sunday night, though the network began airing clips on Friday morning after the book leaked out.

He will have several other high-profile appearances in Washington, followed by events at bookstores in Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles and other cities. At each, Mr. Comey's observations about the president's behavior and character are certain to generate headlines.

The Republican National Committee is organizing television and radio bookings for people appearing to rebut Mr. Comey during the tour. Kellyanne Conway, one of Mr. Trump's most loyal advisers, was up early on Friday to question Mr. Comey's credibility for the TV cameras.

“We find that Mr. Comey has a revisionist view of history and seems like a disgruntled ex-employee,” Ms. Conway said. “After all, he was fired.”

Fox News, the president's preferred TV news network, plans to air its own special on Sunday night, “The Trial of James Comey”, at 9 p.m. on “The Next Revolution with Steve Hilton”.


President Donald J. Trump and James B. Comey at the White House days after the inauguration. — Photograph: Al Drago/The New York Times.
President Donald J. Trump and James B. Comey at the White House days after the inauguration. — Photograph: Al Drago/The New York Times.

Republicans on Friday also leapt at the chance to tie Mr. Comey to Andrew G. McCabe, his former deputy director, after the Justice Department inspector general issued a highly critical report that accused Mr. McCabe of repeatedly misleading investigators.

Not all of the personal insults were coming from the president and his allies. At times, Mr. Comey seemed to be doing the same thing in his book, writing at one point that Mr. Trump's face appeared “slightly orange, with bright white half-moons under his eyes where I assumed he placed small tanning goggles.”

Mr. Comey's comparison of the president's operating style to the Mafia — “The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them world-view. The lying about all things, large and small” — might have been expected to please Democrats if it had come from someone else. But at least initially, he received a somewhat muted defense from Democrats still angry about the way he handled the investigation into Mrs. Clinton's private email server.

While they cheered on his fight with Mr. Trump, they argued that Mr. Comey should not have made public the email inquiry the way he did.

“He let his own ego get in the way, and it put him in charge of fate that was not his decision to act on,” said Jennifer Palmieri, a senior adviser to Mrs. Clinton's campaign. “I don't think he had partisan motivations. But there's a lot of people I know who don't agree with me on that.”

Anger from Democrats toward Mr. Comey cascaded across social media on Friday. Ms. Palmieri said she would urge them not to join Mr. Trump in piling on Mr. Comey, even though she admitted there is “a lot of resentment” toward him.

“I don't agree that he's an untruthful slimeball,” she said, adding that Democrats should not help the president undermine Mr. Comey's credibility. “That's not responsible or productive.”

Mr. Trump's decision to fire Mr. Comey last May eventually led to the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia's 2016 election meddling and whether Mr. Trump has deliberately tried to obstruct the investigation. In an extraordinary day of testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee the next month, he foreshadowed many of the themes of his book, describing how Mr. Trump had tried to derail an investigation of Michael T. Flynn, who served briefly as national security adviser and accused the president of lying and defaming him and the F.B.I.

The former F.B.I. chief's much-anticipated 304-page memoir is the first major memoir by one of the key characters in the Trump administration.

Some of the moments that Mr. Comey describes in the book were already publicly known: He describes a January 2017 dinner where he said that Mr. Trump asked him for a loyalty pledge, an episode that was reported by multiple news organizations last year. But the details cast Mr. Trump and his aides in a negative light.

The time Mr. Comey first briefed Mr. Trump on Russian election meddling has also been frequently described. In the book, Mr. Comey added his own description of how a discussion about a grievous intrusion into the American election process became “a strategy session about messaging on Russia — about how they could spin what we'd just told them.”


__________________________________________________________________________

Michael D. Shear reported from Washington, and Alexander Burns from New York. Eileen Sullivan contributed reporting from Washington.

• Michael D. Shear is a White House correspondent in the Washington bureau of The New York Times, where he covers President Trump, with a focus on domestic policy, the regulatory state and life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. A veteran political correspondent, he covered Barack Obama's presidency, including the 2012 re-election campaign. Before coming to The N.Y. Times in 2010, he spent 18 years at The Washington Post, writing about local communities, school districts, state politics, the 2008 presidential campaign and the White House. A member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team that covered the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, Mr. Shear is a 1990 graduate of Claremont McKenna College and has a masters in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He lives in Virginia with his wife and two teenage children.

• Alexander Burns is a political reporter for The New York Times on the National desk, covering elections and the dynamics of political power across the country. He was one of the lead reporters covering Donald Trump's presidential campaign in 2016, after coming to The Times in 2015 as a political correspondent for the Metro desk. Mr. Burns was a reporter and editor at Politico before joining The N.Y. Times, covering the 2012 presidential election and the Republican Party's struggle to define itself during the Obama presidency. He is a graduate of Harvard College, where he edited the Harvard Political Review.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • Read The New York Times' review of Mr. Comey's memoir: James Comey Has a Story to Tell. It's Very Persuasive.

 • Comey's Memoir Offers Visceral Details on a President ‘Untethered to Truth’

 • F.B.I. Agents Supported Comey, Surveys Show, Weakening Trump's Claim of Turmoil


https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/13/us/politics/trump-calls-comey-untruthful-slimeball-as-book-details-released.html
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