Trump Unloads A Tweetstorm On The Eve Of James Comey’s Book Tour

President Trump is on the attack against James Comey as the former F.B.I. Director begins his book tour.

Beginning tonight with an interview that will be broadcast by ABC News, former F.B.I. Director James Comey kicks off a tour to mark the release of his new book,  A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, which is scheduled to be released next Tuesday. The anticipation of the release of that book and the tour that will accompany it have already set the President and the Administration off with attacks on Comey, but today those attacks shifted up into high gear thanks to a barrage of Sunday morning Tweets from the President:

For the second time in a week, President Trump on Sunday excoriated the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey in a series of tweets after details from Mr. Comey’s tell-all book were leaked before its official release.

In the latest tirade, which unfolded over an hour, the president declared that Mr. Comey “will go down as the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!” He mentioned Mr. Comey’s contemporaneous notes of their meetings, calling those memos self-serving and “fake.”

He reiterated that Mr. Comey was a “slime ball,” an insult he lobbed on Friday. He also questioned Mr. Comey’s intelligence twice — first by saying the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails had been handled “stupidly” and then, about 30 minutes later, that Mr. Comey “is not smart!”

Mr. Trump also questioned the integrity of former United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who said in a recent interview with NBC News that she did not discuss Hillary Clinton during her meeting with President Bill Clinton in June 2016 on a plane on an airport tarmac. Mrs. Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email server has long been the subject of controversy and that meeting with Mr. Clinton cast a shadow over the federal investigation.

Ms. Lynch told NBC that Mr. Clinton told a “charming story” about grandchildren and discussed issues of the day, such as Brexit.

Mr. Trump balked at that description, writing on Twitter, “Was she promised a Supreme Court seat, or AG, in order to lay off Hillary. No golf and grandkids talk (give us all a break)!”

The president’s sharp remarks came hours ahead of Mr. Comey’s first major news media appearance since being fired by President Trump last year. Excerpts from the interview, which will air on ABC News on Sunday night, have been shared by the network after details from Mr. Comey’s book leaked on Thursday.

Mr. Comey’s book, “A Higher Loyalty” describes Mr. Trump as “unethical, and untethered to truth” and compared Mr. Trump to a Mafia boss.

Mr. Comey also speculated 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.”

Mr. Trump and his allies counterattacked on Friday, and Democrats, many of whom blame Mr. Comey for Mrs. Clinton’s loss in the 2016 election, issued a muted defense.

Mr. Trump continued his criticism of Mr. Comey’s book on Sunday, questioning why Mr. Comey hadn’t used the book to address questions such as why “he gave up Classified Information.”

Here are the President’s five tweets about Comey, released over a period of roughly an hour and twenty minutes this morning:

As The Washington Post notes, there were a number of inaccuracies in Trump’s tweets:

Comey has not been formally accused of disclosing classified information or lying to Congress.

The memos Trump appears to reference are ones that Comey wrote documenting his meetings and phone calls with the president — which have since become public. Comey asked a friend to give some of those memos to the New York Times, but the memos are not thought to contain have classified material. Comey has testified about the memos under oath to Congress. He has alleged that Trump asked him to ease off a probe into fired national security adviser Michael Flynn and wanted complete “loyalty.”

Trump has continued to allege that McCabe was deferential to Hillary Clinton during the FBI’s investigation of her use of a private email server because his wife took donations from a Clinton ally for a state Senate race in Virginia. The accusation is one that McCabe has denied and has never been proved.

McCabe claimed after his firing that he was targeted because he was a witness in Mueller’s probe.

McCabe’s attorney, Michael R. Bromwich, responded Sunday to the president’s claims, tweeting: “1. The book isn’t out so you don’t know what’s in it. 2. The Comey and McCabe memos are very real. 3. The story about ‘McCabe’s $ 700,000’ has been fully explained. . . . 4. Your strategy of attacking beloved former FBI leaders — not smart.”

The president’s tweet about Comey and Loretta E. Lynch appears to reference a part of the book in which Comey says the then-attorney general was conflicted on the Hillary Clinton investigation because of unspecified classified information that he said he was aware of — and that Lynch wanted him to call the probe a “matter.”

Trump also references a meeting that Bill Clinton — whom he calls “Wild Bill” — and Lynch had on a Phoenix tarmac in July 2016 that was seen as questionable, as Lynch was leading the investigation into Hillary Clinton. There is no proof, however, that Bill Clinton offered Lynch a job or a favor to have her ease off the investigation into his wife. The two said that their planes just happened to be on the same tarmac and that they made casual conversation after Clinton asked to come aboard Lynch’s plane.

Trump also attacked Comey for writing that political considerations may have driven him to reopen the Clinton investigation in the final days of the 2016 election campaign. Comey writes that it is possible “my concern about making her an illegitimate president by concealing the restarted investigation bore greater weight than it would have if the election appeared closer or if Donald Trump were ahead in all polls.”

“Unbelievably, James Comey states that Polls, where Crooked Hillary was leading, were a factor in the handling (stupidly) of the Clinton email probe. In other words, he was making decisions based on the fact that he thought she was going to win, and he wanted a job. Slimeball!” Trump wrote in one of his tweets.

That admission by Comey has drawn condemnation from others, including former New Jersey governor Chris Christie (R), who worked closely with Comey and has often lavishly praised him.

“It is exactly what they teach you not to do,” Christie said on ABC. “. . . The hubris he shows in that interview is extraordinary to me. Not the guy I worked with or worked for.”

Still, it is unclear why Trump thought reopening the probe into the email server would help Comey get a job with the Clintons. Clinton and her allies resented the move and said it hurt her chances to become president. And when Trump fired Comey, he cited a memo that said Comey’s termination was partly because he was unfair to Clinton.

In addition to the President’s Twitter tirades, the full-court press against the former F.B.I. Director is being repeated by Trump’s political allies and other. For example, the Republican National Committee is spearheading a campaign centered around a party-established website called “Lyin’ Comey” that alleges to catalog the lies that Comey has told over the years.It also features many of the attacks that were leveled against him by Democrats during the investigation regarding former Secretary of State Clinton’s use of a private email server and the manner in which Clinton and those working under her handled classified information. This includes many of the critical comments that have been made both during and after the 2016 campaign regarding the letter Comey wrote to Congress advising that he had reopened the investigation just eleven days prior to the election.

As I noted previously, much of the current attention regarding Comey’s book is focusing on the salacious aspects of Comey’s book, including allegations of what can only be described as bizarre sexual preferences that are set forth in the dossier prepared by Christopher Steele, a former MI6 agent who has worked with the F.B.I. in the past but has largely spent the last decade as a private investigator. That dossier has played a limited role in the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, collusion between people close to Trump and persons associated with the Russian government, and other questionable legal and ethical issues raised by Trump’s business dealings. The dossier also includes certain allegations regarding encounters between Trump and Russian prostitutes which have not been verified, but which have remained persistent enough that one has to wonder if there might not be some truth to them after all. In any case, it’s this last part of the dossier that has apparently been Trump’s biggest obsession ever since the contents became public, and it seems to be at least part of the reason for his overall effort to undermine the Mueller investigation and James Comey himself.

In the end, Trump’s obsession with Comey’s book and the allegations it contains seems likely to backfire and only bring more attention to both Comey’s book and the allegations, revelations, and comments he may make during the course of the many interviews he’ll be giving over the course of the next week to ten days. This is a phenomenon known as the Streisand Effect in which the effort to conceal or discredit negative information has the opposite effect of causing people to seek out that information, or to pay more attention to it than they otherwise might have done. We saw a similar example of this last month in reaction to the allegations that former adult film actress Stormy Daniels has made against the President regarding a sexual encounter between her and Trump around the time that Trump’s wife Melania as pregnant with his fifth child. When Daniels finally sat down for an interview with Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes, it managed to draw in 22 million viewers, making it one of the most-watched episodes of that show in quite some time. While it’s unclear if Comey’s interviews, which begin tonight with an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC, will garner quite that big an audience, at least some evidence of the impact that the attention the Administration is helping to draw to the book tour is paying off given the fact that Comey’s book is already at the top of Amazon’s Best Seller List even though the book won’t be released until Tuesday. Additionally, CNN notes that Comey’s publisher expects as many as 850,000 copies of the book to be sold just in the opening weeks of the tour. With Trump likely to pay even more attention to the book in the days to come, those numbers are only likely to increase.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. reid says:

    This nonsense is all Trump is capable of doing. The reality TV show-level drama idiocy from the highest office is endless. An utter embarrassment. It’s mystifying to still read about approval numbers as high as the 40s, though I guess lots of people watch Kardashians. Funny how they don’t mind that in a president.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    There is something so disturbing in seeing this coward melt down. The President of the United States of America, so weak, so publicly weak, so unaware of how weak he looks, melting down while the world watches, appalled and transfixed. I find it nauseating. Cowardice is never attractive but he lacks even the minimal courage it would take to fake it better. He won’t even pretend. He defies literary, movie or historical parallels because no one would write a character so contemptible.

    A sickening display.

  3. CSK says:

    You have to remember that Trump, above all, is a failed social climber. He was determined to crash those moneyed, blueblooded New York circles and conquer them, to be accepted as one of the true Manhattan elite. You have to be born into those azure realms of society, but even so, if he’d conducted himself in a remotely civilized fashion, behaving as much like a gentleman as he could (tough, I know), donating to the proper charities, marrying a nice impoverished gentlewoman who was willing to trade her pedigree for his money, he might have become acceptable to the lower rungs of the haute monde. But no. He wanted his sex life plastered all over the tabloids because he thought it would impress people.

    This is why he has to lash out, in vulgar adolescent fashion, at every slight. He knows, deep down, that the people he most wants to impress scorn him–if they give him a moment’s thought.
    He’s a loser. A pathetic loser. And he knows it.

  4. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Judith Krantz did make him a minor character in I’ll Take Manhattan. He even played himself in the mini-series.

    But you are right. If you were writing decent fiction, you would have to tone Trump down to make him believable.

  5. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: The writers of Back to the Future Part II have claimed they based Casino Biff on Trump.

  6. Kathy says:

    The way he keeps giving the book such publicity, you’d think all his money was tied up in Amazon stock.

  7. Charon says:

    I think it is remarkable and irrational how much attention he is giving this silly book, and how Fox etc. and the RNC are also obsessed with it.

    Rationally, the Michael Cohen situation is at least an order of magnitude more serious and significant.

  8. teve tory says:

    He won’t even pretend. He defies literary, movie or historical parallels because no one would write a character so contemptible.

    What about that candidate for president in The Dead Zone who uses a baby as a human shield against a sniper?

  9. Kylopod says:

    @teve tory:

    What about that candidate for president in The Dead Zone who uses a baby as a human shield against a sniper?

    I speak in all seriousness when I say I think it is entirely within the realm of possibility that Trump might do exactly that.

    And I cannot say with any confidence that it would have the same career-ending impact it did on Stillson.

  10. grumpy realist says:

    Anyone with sufficient practical knowledge of trial procedures and the NYC courts know whether Trump’s lawyers’ request to get the first crack at going through Cohen’s documents is going to be possibly accepted, or is this a Hail Mary pass that is going to get laughed out of the courtroom? My gut reaction is that it’s the latter.

  11. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Actually, that might be another reason for his obsessive hatred of Amazon: the fact that so many Trump tell-all books are sold on Amazon and will bring even more wealth to Jeff Bezos. You can see how that would send him out of his tree even more than usual.

  12. teve tory says:

    I speak in all seriousness when I say I think it is entirely within the realm of possibility that Trump might do exactly that.

    And I cannot say with any confidence that it would have the same career-ending impact it did on Stillson.

    “And now back to fox and friends…that baby president trump held up was already born, so it clearly wouldn’t have been an abortion, like the lying democrats would have wanted…”