In the lead-up to the Comey hearing, there were rumors swirling that the president was planning to go on the offensive, that he would live-tweet the former FBI director’s testimony and attempt to rebut it in real time. Instead, Trump was uncharacteristically quiet—he didn’t tweet at all on June 8, instead leaving the spin to his personal attorney and Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Trump broke his silence early Friday morning. But while he was defiant, he was also oddly restrained (at least by his own belligerent standards), tweeting only twice.
This is essentially a (severely) truncated version of his attorney’s bizarre and not-at-all-convincing statement. It nevertheless contains a couple of bombastic allegations. Most notably, Trump appears to suggest that Comey committed perjury. Like his attorney’s statement, however, he’s trying to have his cake and eat it too. Trump is cherry-picking the testimony that he thinks makes him look good—that Comey confirmed that Trump was not under FBI investigation while Comey was FBI director—while claiming that the testimony that makes him look bad (i.e. the bulk of Comey’s testimony, which made the case that Trump obstructed justice). The argument that “WOW... Comey is a leaker” is bogus—Comey did not provide classified information to the press and Trump’s attempt to conflate real leaking with what Comey did (and many in his administration regularly do) is cynical and destructive.
Just as importantly, Trump’s cherry-picking strategy is so transparently cynical only he and his surrogates could relay it with a straight face. While Trump’s allies in politics and media have attempted to sift out the things that fit Trump’s alternative narrative, anyone who watched Comey’s appearance before Congress saw that the former FBI director was clearly if not quite unabashedly making the case that Trump obstructed justice. That’s the most important story now—because even if Trump wasn’t under FBI investigation when he fired Comey, he should be now.