If you’ve ever felt that Donald Trump’s actual intent was simply to drive the entire nation straight over a cliff, here’s your vindication.
While Trump’s tweet may seem like a logic-knot so convoluted that pretzels cry out in envy, what Trump has done here is actually to provide a summary of every Republican talking point since James Comey’s opening statement appeared. 1) Comey’s words completely prove Trump right … except where he’s lying. 2) Comey leaked to the media … his own personal statement.
The first point of this twisted pair requires not just a selected reading of Comey’s statement to find only the words that are palatable to Trump, it requires a very special view of what the word “vindicated” means. By carefully combing through three hours of testimony, Republicans have been able to ascertain this: Trump can count. At least he can count to three. That’s the number of times that Comey indicated to Trump that he was not then under a personal investigation. Trump had said it was three. It was three.
Of course, Comey had also said that the investigation was of Trump’s campaign and, as others at the FBI pointed out, that investigation might easily extend to the person at the point of that campaign. And Comey’s statement may no longer be true in no small part because of Trump’s actions that led to dismissing Comey. But sure. Total and complete vindication that Trump can make it to three. Four? That will have to wait for another day.
Then there’s the accusation that Comey “leaked,” which seems to be the new Republican word for “spoke.”
Comey didn’t reveal any classified information. He didn’t given anyone’s personal information, share a credit card number, or out someone as a secret lover of Bit-o-Honey. All he did was share his own personal experiences in his own words. He didn’t do anything ridiculous,like reveal the location of an Israeli spy. To the Russians. In the White House. To call Comey a leaker requires expanding the term to the point where it encompasses anyone sharing any experience with anyone else.
Even worse than Trump’s leaky tweet was the statement from his personal lawyer on Thursday, which included:
Today, Mr. Comey admitted that he unilaterally and surreptitiously made unauthorized disclosures to the press of privileged communications with the President.
This isn’t a change in the classification of what Comey said. This is about Trump. The statement from Marc Kasowitz requires that everything Trump says be automatically considered as an In camera communication, subject to claim of executive privilege without the need for an actual claim of executive privilege.
It’s a ridiculous assertion that would make it impossible for anyone to testify against Trump. Which is, of course, the point.
The point of Trump’s tweet, and the point of his lawyer’s statement, fits perfectly with how Trump has treated the media from the outset. If anything that the media says that Trump doesn’t like is fake news, then any testimony he doesn’t like is a lie. People are only allowed to say good things about Donald Trump. Everyone else is a tattletale … er, leaker.
To reinforce this, Trump followed up his mind-bending tweet with one that’s much easier to interpret.