We’ve moved this morning from politics that seemed Nixonian, to a scene out of the Godfather.
Donald Trump is now leveling direct threats against the FBI director that he fired on Tuesday. This follows on three days of shifting excuses and rotating blame in which Trump first tried to blame Comey’s dismissal on deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein and claimed that the reason Comey was fired was over his handling of Hillary Clinton’s email. After the White House press secretary, Trump surrogates at every level, and the vice president all marched out to tell this story, Trump himself admitted that Rosenstein had nothing to do with it. And after days of saying it wasn’t about Russia … it was about Russia.
Now Trump has engaged in a full bore attack on the former FBI director, who he called a “showboat” and “a grandstander” in what might be the most fantastic case of pot on kettle in history. Trump’s threat comes on top of revelations that not only did Trump directly ask the FBI director about his own status in the Russia investigation, that question came along with an attempt to strong arm Comey into swearing loyalty to Trump.
As they ate, the president and Mr. Comey made small talk about the election and the crowd sizes at Mr. Trump’s rallies. The president then turned the conversation to whether Mr. Comey would pledge his loyalty to him.
Mr. Comey declined to make that pledge.
Don Trump made Comey an offer … that he refused. And because of that, Trump both took Comey’s job and is doing his best to wreck Comey’s reputation.
The White House is denying this account. The same way it denied that firing Comey had anything to do with Russia. And the same way they denied that firing Comey was Trump’s idea.
WIthin a week of taking office, Donald Trump summoned Comey to the White House and tried to extract a pledge of personal fealty. Comey refused.
Now Trump is threatening Comey about “tapes” of their conversations. Is Trump worried that Comey recorded some of what he said, or is Trump suggesting that he was recording the FBI director without his knowledge? Either way, expect to hear how Trump didn’t really mean tapes when he said tapes because, you know, it’s in quotes.
If Trump asked Comey to kiss the ring, it’s likely he did the same to others. Jefferson Sessions wouldn’t hesitate at such a pledge, but he should be asked about it. So should every single other person Trump has appointed or nominated. Is the Justice Department loyal to the law, or to Trump? Is Homeland Security protecting the nation, or the Don?
Was Neil Gorsuch asked to make such a pledge before taking a chair on the Supreme Court?
Every single member of the Trump administration should have to sit in front of the Congress and answer the question: Did you make, or were you asked to make, any pledge of loyalty to Donald Trump?
Donald Trump was originally scheduled to visit the FBI office today. That’s been cancelled. Which is too bad. There were probably people there with a few things to say to the Don.