Trumpertantrum! The President’s latest self-destructive Twitter episode involves, of course, James Comey. It’s particularly ill-advised considering that, generally speaking, he, or at least his administration, were coming out at least even if not rather ahead of Comey in the book tour spectacle currently underway.
But if there’s one thing you can trust, it’s that Trump will ruin things by tweeting about them. It’s his bailiwick.
Here’s the latest example:
James Comey’s Memos are Classified, I did not Declassify them. They belong to our Government! Therefore, he broke the law! Additionally, he totally made up many of the things he said I said, and he is already a proven liar and leaker. Where are Memos on Clinton, Lynch & others?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2018
Mr. President, Comey’s memos were released and people aren’t finding them very explosive. In fact, they reflect somewhat poorly on him. We’d call it a wash. Compared to all the other news and the contents of his book, as well as the ongoing investigations and political commentary thereof, the memos are sort of a non-starter.
OKAY GREAT I’M GOING TO GO MAKE THEM A CENTERPIECE OF EVERYONE’S ATTENTION AND CHANGE THE SUBJECT TO THEIR LEGALITY AN ISSUE ON WHICH I HAVE LITTLE ROOM TO TALK AND EVEN LESS EXPERTISE OKAY THANKS BYE BYE NOW. SAD. MAGA.
That probably wasn’t the exact conversation, but it’s probably a close approximation.
The question of the classification of the memos is not only being debated, but investigated. At issue is whether information that was contained within the memos was classified at the time that Comey shared them with a friend, and whether at the time he shared them he was empowered to determine classification himself.
From the Wall Street Journal:
At least two of the memos that former FBI Director James Comey gave to a friend outside of the government contained information that officials now consider classified, according to people familiar with the matter, prompting a review by the Justice Department’s internal watchdog.
Of those two memos, Mr. Comey himself redacted elements of one that he knew to be classified to protect secrets before he handed the documents over to his friend. He determined at the time that another memo contained no classified information, but after he left the Federal Bureau of Investigation, bureau officials upgraded it to “confidential,” the lowest level of classification.
The Justice Department inspector general is now conducting an investigation into classification issues related to the Comey memos, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Comey has said he considered the memos personal rather than government documents. He has told Congress that he wrote them and authorized their release to the media “as a private citizen.”
A complex, undecided issue, obviously. Certainly not resolved by Trump asserting sole authority over the ability to classify things, which is clearly not a power of any individual person or office in the government but rests with many authorities.
In fact, it is that very fact that allowed Comey to classify and reclassify his own documents in what The Weekly Standard referred to as “games” to essentially cover his own behind, and to make it easier for himself both to share with whom he chose, and to obfuscate about that without actually lying.
It is far too much to excerpt, you should read it here. It would be silly of me not to point out that the Weekly Standard is as far as you can get from Trump-friendly and still be called a Republican publication. The question of legality and classification, not to mention leaks, shouldn’t be a partisan one, after all.
Of course, it totally is now. Not 100% because of Trump, but more than half because of him. I’m sure the Weekly Standard didn’t relish this tweet putting them in bed with him on the issue, and it will now be a cold day in hell before any Democrat admits Comey was pulling a fast one with his classification.
This is what Trump tweets like this do. They muddy the water, and they turn serious issues into ridiculous sideshows of MAGA parrots and Resistance mules waged in intractable, unresolvable battle. His touch turns a legitimately nuanced and still being worked out matter of propriety and legality into an MTV reality show of nonsense. Which is, I guess, sort of his brand.
And brand does seem to be the topmost of his concerns. So I guess in a weird way, it makes sense he’d undermine the credibility of a challenge to the classification of the memos and the propriety of sharing them if at the same time it shores up his personal brand as a loudmouth with a bully pulpit.
It’s just too bad for the rest of America.
Seriously, though, this is a fascinating read from the Weekly Standard. Check it out.