We’ve come a long way since Donald Trump blew a kiss to James Comey at a White House gathering six months ago. The president, who fired the former FBI director because of his opposition to the investigation into the Russia scandal, today took his contempt for Comey in a new direction.
President Donald Trump went after former FBI director James Comey on Twitter Monday, accusing him of breaking the law by leaking classified information to the news media.
But that isn’t true, according to Comey’s friend, Columbia University law professor Daniel Richman, who received some of the memos and shared some elements with reporters.
“James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media,” the president declared. “That is so illegal!”
It’s tempting to say that it’s not every day that a sitting president of the United States accuses the former director of the FBI of a felony, but in the Trump era, I’m afraid developments like these tend to occur quite regularly.
The trouble, of course, is that Trump doesn’t appear to have any idea what he’s talking about. The tweet came in response to a report he saw on Fox News, which aired a segment based on a report in The Hill, which didn’t say what the confused president thinks it said.
Heads of state of global superpowers should, as a rule, read articles before using them to publicly accuse former FBI directors of crimes.
So, what is this all about? It’s a bit of a convoluted story, but The Hill’s piece noted that some of the memos Comey wrote about his interactions included classified information. And while it’s true that Comey ultimately shared one of his memos with his friend, Daniel Richman, that memo wasn’t one of the classified ones.
I suspect some of the White House’s allies will say Trump’s mistake wasn’t entirely his fault. After all, the argument goes, Fox News’ segment (and related tweet) painted a misleading picture, which the president apparently relied on. He was fooled by bad reporting.
But that’s ultimately unsatisfying. When Donald Trump was a strange television personality, it was easier for him to get away with making false and bizarre accusations, but he’s supposed to be the leader of the free world now. If he wants to accuse the former director of the FBI of a crime, he might want to check with an aide or two, and not just rely on an inaccurate segment he happened to catch on Fox News.
Indeed, Trump is already facing one defamation lawsuit based on reckless rhetoric Trump threw around without much thought. The president should probably exercise some care before inviting another.