Republicans have orchestrated a campaign to paint former FBI Director James Comey as a liar, opportunist, and political operative before his book launch.
- The GOP is doing damage control ahead of former FBI Director James Comey's book launch.
- The Republican National Committee launched a website called lyincomey.com, outlining Democrats' previous criticisms of Comey.
- Republicans are attempting to portray Comey as a liar and political operative with no credibility.
President Donald Trump's Republican allies have orchestrated a sweeping campaign to paint former FBI Director James Comey as a liar, opportunist, and political operative before he releases his widely anticipated memoir on Tuesday.
The Republican National Committee launched the lyincomey.com website on Thursday, which highlights previous criticisms of Comey by Democrats and urges visitors to "check the facts" before believing any claims his "grandstanding book" will make.
The website's launch comes just days before Comey's ABC News interview with George Stephanopoulos airs on Sunday. The network has already released a teaser of one exchange, in which Stephanopoulos suggests that Comey likened Trump to a "mob boss."
Comey's book, "A Higher Loyalty," will be released Thursday and is expected to give some insight into his fraught relationship with Trump in the months leading up to his May 2017 firing.
CNN reported Thursday that the Republicans' damage-control plan was approved by the White House, and focuses on three main criticisms of Comey:
- "Comey has a long history of misstatements and misconduct" as well as "bizarre decisions, contradictory statements and acting against Department of Justice and FBI protocol."
- "Attempts to smear the Trump administration are nothing more than retaliation by a disgraced former official."
- "Comey isn't credible — just ask Democrats."
Lyincomey.com focuses on the last point, in particular, featuring quotes from prominent Democrats in 2016 — including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — that explicitly questioned Comey's credibility and suggested he step down as FBI director.
Many Democrats had reacted with outrage after Comey informed lawmakers of new information related to the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server. His decision to share the information with lawmakers triggered a firestorm of criticism due to the agency's longstanding habit of staying mum on active criminal investigations.
'Hawking a book'
Ronna McDaniel, the RNC's chairwoman, told CNN that Comey's "misconduct" warranted condemnations from both Republicans and Democrats, and that the public should be reminded of them before his book launches.
"If Comey wants the spotlight back on him, we'll make sure the American people understand why he has no one but himself to blame for his complete lack of credibility," she said.
But some Republicans have abstained from publicly criticizing Comey before his book tour. Sen. Bob Corker laughed on Thursday when Business Insider asked him about lyincomey.com, and said he respected Comey's public service.
"I don't know James Comey, but I'm certainly not someone who would have any desire to criticize or bring him down," he said. "I respect the service he gave our country and I'm sure over the course of time, we'll all know more about his actions during the campaign and after."
Other prominent conservatives, however, appear to have already adopted arguments similar to those that the RNC laid out.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told Fox News that he believed Comey was acting politically when he had a friend leak memos he'd written to The New York Times "for the express purpose of having a special counsel" investigate Trump.
"I think [Comey's] trying to sell a book," Graham said. "He's no longer the former director of the FBI to me — he's a political operative."
Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and prominent Trump ally, told Fox News that Comey is "hawking a book" to make money, not to get "to the heart of the truth."
"You know that old saying, 'There is no anger like a woman scorned?' Here is an FBI director who got publicly fired and humiliated. So he's out for a little bit of revenge," Huckabee said.