Late Monday afternoon, Donald Trump took the extraordinary step of interfering with an ongoing federal investigation, ordering the public release of highly classified materials related to the Russia investigation. More than a few current and former officials have said the president’s political gambit could prove dangerous to U.S. security interests.
Yesterday, the Republican published related tweets on the subject, again falsely claiming that the FBI spied on the Trump campaign, adding, “Really bad things were happening, but they are now being exposed. Big stuff!”
In a new interview with The Hill, Trump went a little further.
President Trump in an exclusive interview with Hill.TV said Tuesday he ordered the release of classified documents in the Russia collusion case to show the public the FBI probe started as a “hoax,” and that exposing it could become one of the “crowning achievements” of his presidency.
“What we’ve done is a great service to the country, really,” Trump said in a 45-minute, wide-ranging interview in the Oval Office.
“I hope to be able to call this, along with tax cuts and regulation and all the things I’ve done … in its own way this might be the most important thing because this was corrupt,” he said. […]
Asked what he thought the outcome of his long-running fight with the FBI, the president said: “I hope to be able put this up as one of my crowning achievements that I was able to … expose something that is truly a cancer in our country.”
By all appearances, the corruption at the FBI exists only in Trump’s strange imagination. The Conspiracy Theorist in Chief has peddled related claims for months, and waged an unusually aggressively campaign against federal law enforcement, but none of the president’s odd claims have stood up to any meaningful scrutiny.
The idea that Trump’s war against the FBI would be one of his “crowning achievements” is quite pitiful, and as the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent explained very well yesterday, the most likely outcome of the president’s latest gambit is that this abuse of power will backfire and make his claims appear even more absurd.
The report added, “Trump said he had not read the documents he ordered declassified but said he expected to show they would prove the FBI case started as a political ‘hoax.’”
That’s an unusually amusing sentence. Trump doesn’t know what the materials say – he’s not much of a reader – and he knows national security officials believe it would be dangerous to release them, but he’s nevertheless optimistic the documents he hasn’t seen will substantiate his ridiculous conspiracy theories.
And speaking of ridiculous, in the same interview, Trump told The Hill, in reference to former FBI Director James Comey, “If I did one mistake with Comey, I should have fired him before I got here. I should have fired him the day I won the primaries,” Trump said. “I should have fired him right after the convention, say I don’t want that guy. Or at least fired him the first day on the job. … I would have been better off firing him or putting out a statement that I don’t want him there when I get there.”
So, in Trump’s mind, presidential candidates – not presidents, mind you, but people who are still seeking the office – have the power to fire an FBI director?
As for the idea that he should’ve forced Comey out months before the firing, it’s worth remembering that Trump hosted a White House event in January 2017 in which he appeared to blow Comey a kiss before encouraging him to cross the room for a presidential embrace.
I guess we’re supposed to believe Trump’s public affection for Comey was masking his seething contempt for the FBI chief.