The Republican National Committee is gearing up to launch a crude campaign to attack and undermine the credibility of former FBI Director James Comey as he gives interviews and does a book tour for his new memoir “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership.”
The RNC has launched a website with a Trumpian headline; “Lyin’ Comey,” which will use not just Republican comments but also things Democrats have said in the past about him when he was FBI Director.
The White House signed off on the plan last night, according to CNN, allowing the RNC to take the lead in a counter-offensive against Comey’s recollections and allegations against Trump, but they are not sticking to any particular cohesive strategy because Trump is so unpredictable.
“It’s understood within the West Wing that laying out an advance media strategy is largely a futile exercise,” reported Politico on Monday, “since President Donald Trump could blow up any prepared talking points with a single tweet.”
The RNC website and campaign will also be supported by advertising, apparently mostly on digital and online platforms, as well as talking points being sent to Republican operatives across the country to create a chorus of voices attacking Comey’s credibility.
Republican chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told CNN. “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.”
Comey’s media campaign is set to kick off Sunday when ABC will air an interview he did with George Stephanopoulos in which he is said to compare Trump to a “mob boss.”
The book officially comes out next Tuesday.
Comey is also set to do a Town Hall on CNN that will air on April 25.
The RNC response, according to CNN, will be built around several talking points:
First that Comey has a history of misstatements and misconduct, including “bizarre decisions, contradictory statements and acting against Department of Justice and BBI protocol.”
Second, that his attempts to smear Trump are just an attempt at retaliation by a disgraced former government official.
Third, that Comey lacks credibility, which will be illustrated by comments from Democrats who have been unhappy with his past actions inducing House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).
Here is a sample from the RNC website:
Pelosi suggested that Comey was “not in the right job.”
Bernie Sanders said, “It would not be a bad thing for the American people if [Comey] did step down.”
Chuck Schumer said, “I do not have confidence in [Comey] any longer.”
Maxine Waters said Comey “has no credibility” and deserved to be fired.
The RNC will also highlight what it considers contradictions in statements Comey has made including during testimony to various Congressional committees.
Trump is expected to tweet his own reaction as he has done in the past.
James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
Comey mocked Trump for that tweet earlier this year when he showed a picture of himself working on the audio version of his book.
Lordy, this time there will be a tape. Audio book almost finished. pic.twitter.com/38LNOJdtw7
— James Comey (@Comey) February 27, 2018
Last month, Comey promised the truth would come out in his book.
Mr. President, the American people will hear my story very soon. And they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not.
— James Comey (@Comey) March 17, 2018
What Trump and the RNC will accomplish is to make Comey’s book a huge bestseller, as they did earlier this year when their attacks on Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury made it one of the biggest sellers in years.
CBS News reported last month that the book had already reached the top spot on Amazon’s best-seller list thanks to advance sales of the print, electronic and audio versions.
The RNC plans to attack Comey on his credibility but the fact is that it is President Trump and the Republicans who have a credibility issue after the President has been caught repeatedly lying and Republicans have mindlessly parroted those lies.
So the more they attack Comey, the better the book will do and the more the former FBI Director who has had a long distinguished career before this happened will, by comparison, seem like someone who, in fact, can be trusted.
When Trump fired Comey, it led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, so that gambit backfired; and now attempts to smear Comey likewise will backfire and are going to make him rich, much better known and provide a powerful platform to deliver his message.
Keep tweeting Mr. President, and it may just come back to bite you again.