James Comey giveth, and James Comey taketh away. Destined to go down in history as the most controversial FBI director since J. Edgar Hoover, James Comey made big waves by testifying before Congress that there was no evidence supporting President Donald Trump’s claim that his predecessor, Barack Obama, wiretapped his phones prior to the 2016 election. He also said that the FBI had been investigating Russia’s alleged manipulations during the 2016 presidential campaign since July, which includes the possibility that members of the Trump campaign made deals with the Russian government.
Basically, to anyone left of the far right wing of the political spectrum, it looks like Trump openly lied about Obama and wiretapping. It also looks like Trump and his cronies may have been working with the Russians to hurt Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. For the controversial president, today was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
For two months, Trump had gotten away with bombastic lies. He declared that his inauguration crowd was record-setting when it was far from it. He insisted that he would have won the popular vote on Election Day if millions of people had not voted illegally, which is completely false. He has taken to labeling anything unfavorable to his administration as “fake news,” which is incorrect. At least Richard Nixon had the good graces to try to slip the lies past us, rather than whacking us in the face with them!
But Comey may have put an end to the lies and an end to Trump’s remaining shreds of credibility. Why? Because Comey is reviled by the left, meaning he has little reason to try to win their favor by bashing his boss. In fact, the revelation that the FBI was investigating possible Russian tinkering in the presidential election as far back as July, months before the Election Day, has infuriated Hillary Clinton’s supporters. Comey once again is being criticized for allegedly sinking Clinton’s campaign and allowing an obnoxious, bigoted political rookie into the Oval Office.
Had Comey publicly revealed that the government was investigating possible Russian attempts to help Trump and hurt Clinton on the campaign trail, Trump might have lost just enough votes in key swing states to give Clinton the win.With Democrats’ anger toward Comey widely known, the embattled FBI director can hardly be portrayed as a liberal stooge. During the presidential campaign, after he publicly condemned Hillary Clinton for behaving recklessly when it came to her private e-mail server, the left yelled that the lawman was in the bag for Trump. Given his refusal to play nice with either the Clinton camp before the election, or the Trump camp after the inauguration, Comey may have shown himself to be a very rare thing: An honest man.
Trump’s supporters will find it tough to dismiss Comey’s testimony as politically-motivated “fake news.”
Comey’s testimony, in addition to hurting Trump’s already-savaged credibility, will do more than give Democrats tremendous ammo in 2020: It will give anti-Trump Republicans more excuses to break with the White House. Even though the Republican Party is in the dreamy position of controlling the Oval Office, House of Representatives, and Senate, infighting has been intense.
Republicans in Congress are fighting over the Obamacare repeal-and-replace plan, Trump’s proposed federal budget, and Trump’s bombastic and radical behavior. Many GOP figures clearly dislike Trump, especially 2016 primary rivals like U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Also routinely opposed to Trump is 2008 Republican nominee John McCain, U.S. Senator from Arizona. U.S. Representative Mark Sanford (R-SC) is also a vocal critic of the president. Thus far, most Republicans have publicly supported the president’s administration- but will it last?
Every bad bombshell for Trump weakens the bonds of party unity. Nobody in the GOP wants to be linked to Trump’s woes. When re-elections loom, particularly for those who must go before voters in 2018, Democrats (and even Republican primary challengers) will try to hang Trump as an albatross around as many conservative necks as possible. Many Republicans will begin publicly breaking with the president to avoid being pilloried in 2018 as Trump lackeys.
“After the testimony by FBI director James Comey, I can no longer support the president,” will be the rationale used by many in the GOP. They will rely on Comey’s status as a nonpartisan figure to avoid being labeled as liberals, allowing them to retain their Republican credentials. When Democrats criticize the Republican president, colleagues within the president’s party risk being seen as turncoats if they publicly agree. But when a nonpartisan figure like the director of the FBI criticizes the president, anyone is free to publicly agree.
What remains to be seen is whether or not Trump will strike back and try to accuse Comey of bias or incompetence. If he does, things will get a lot more interesting!