On Thursday, CNN broke the news that the Republican Party was mobilizing to discredit fired FBI director James Comey in advance of his upcoming book release. According to CNN:
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.
The chairwoman of the RNC, Ronna Romney McDaniel, stated, “Comey is a liar and a leaker and his misconduct led both Republicans and Democrats to call for his firing. If Comey wants the spotlight back on him, we’ll make sure the American people understand why he has no one but himself to blame for his complete lack of credibility.”
To that end, the RNC has opened up a site, LyinComey.com, complete with quotes from Democrats testifying as to Comey’s unfitness for office, as well as explanations for why Trump’s firing of Comey wasn’t obstruction of justice.
The media are treating this as a scandal. It isn’t.
Comey was fired a year ago. He should have been fired by President Obama after his press conference announcing Hillary Clinton’s non-indictment; he should have been fired again after his letter “re-opening” the investigation; he should have been fired by Trump upon Trump taking office. He testified before Congress that Trump had the right to fire him, and that he was not obstructed in his investigation in any way. He also refused to answer some questions from Congress, purportedly for classified reasons. Now he’s appearing on national television to hawk a book, and calling Trump a “mob boss.” That’s pretty good evidence that Trump wasn’t wrong when he called Comey a “grandstander.”
With that said, this is bad strategy by the RNC. They could have made all of these points in non-coordinated fashion – certainly the case against Comey is already well-known. By parroting Trump’s petty “Lyin’ Comey” branding, the RNC looks like a personal revenge tool for the president, and the attacks on Comey look politically motivated rather than simply truthful. That’s a mistake.