In the wake of Donald Trump’s shocking firing of F.B.I chief James Comey yesterday, his supporters have been desperate to figure out a coherent explanation of its timing that didn’t involve the president covering up the ongoing investigation into his campaign’s ties with Russia. The emerging narrative is predictably Orwellian, and based again on asserting an alternate reality onto the scandal.
According to Kellyanne Conway, the media’s questioning of Trump’s timing was “inappropriate”.
“He’ll do it when he wants to,” Conway told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Wednesday morning. Their official explanation? Reported the Huff Post:
Specifically, Trump was apparently dissatisfied with Comey dropping the investigation. Of course no rational observer believes there is any merit to this explanation whatsoever — Trump was extremely supportive of Comey during the campaign trail, particularly after Comey announced he was potentially reopening the investigation into her private emails just days before the vote. Trump also signaled that he didn’t want to punish Clinton after the election. “I don’t want to hurt the Clintons, I really don’t,” Mr. Trump said during an interview with the Times. “She went through a lot and suffered greatly in many different ways, and I am not looking to hurt them at all. The campaign was vicious.”
Fast forward to May and apparently Trump wants the public to believe he didn’t really mean that and did in fact want to keep the investigation into the Clinton email scandal going. This despite him not mentioning it until this week.
In a stunning Politico report, it was revealed that Comey’s probe into the hacking of the election by the Russians was what really enraged Trump — so much so that he would scream at the television set any time it was on the news:
“He [Trump] had grown enraged by the Russia investigation, two advisers said, frustrated by his inability to control the mushrooming narrative around Russia. He repeatedly asked aides why the Russia investigation wouldn’t disappear and demanded they speak out for him. He would sometimes scream at television clips about the probe, one adviser said.
The report continued:
Trump had grown angry with the Russia investigation — particularly Comey admitting in front of the Senate that the FBI was investigating his campaign — and that the FBI director wouldn’t support his claims that President Barack Obama had tapped his phones in Trump Tower.
Most interestingly, Comey had apparently just asked the Justice Department for more money for his investigation just days before he was fired. Reported the New York Times:
Days before he was fired, James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, asked the Justice Department for a significant increase in money and personnel for the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election, according to three officials with knowledge of his request.
Mr. Comey asked for the resources during a meeting last week with Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who wrote the Justice Department’s memo that was used to justify the firing of the F.B.I. director this week.
Mr. Comey then briefed members of Congress on the meeting in recent days.
Trump surrogates are desperately trying to distort this to mean something completely different and are trying to find something that sticks. Here was Breitbart reporting on a radio interview they did with former Michigan Congressman and Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Pete Hoekstra (and no, we don’t link to Breitbart):
Said Hoekstra on Trump firing Comey, Democrats “are now in a very awkward position. They have a President that they don’t like who did exactly what they wish their president, President Obama, had done months ago and that is fire James Comey. And now it’s kind of like, well, what are we supposed to do now? How are we supposed to react to this?”
Hoekstra continued to mock the Democrats, adding, “We don’t like anything that Donald Trump does. That’s our standard operating procedure and he’s now done exactly what we’ve been asking for for months. So, we have to now come up with a rationale why we don’t like this decision and why all of a sudden James Comey is our hero.”
Liberals (and anyone else tethered to reality) can expect this to be the standard response to the outrage over Comey’s firing. Of course the premise is complete nonsense — it is perfectly rational to a) be highly critical of Comey’s job performance and b) express outrage over his firing when the explanation given makes no sense whatsoever.
The notion that Trump fired Comey due to his poor performance is singularly ridiculous given his administration’s appalling performance standards. As we reported on yesterday, being incompetent is quite literally a prerequisite for joining the Trump administration. From climate change denier Rick Perry running the Energy Department to the stunningly inept Betsy Devos heading up education, ability has little to do with whether you have Trump’s backing. Of course no one can say for certain that Trump fired Comey because he was petrified about his investigation, but it is abundantly clear that it had nothing to do with his performance on the job.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.