As the Russia scandal continues to cause major problems for Trump and his administration the pressure is on, and his continued attempts to attack the very people doing the investigating couldn’t be more transparent.
At this point, it is considered very likely that Trump is being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for obstruction of justice, among other potential crimes. The obstruction charge stems from the firing of James Comey, which Trump himself said was due to Comey’s refusal to drop the Russia investigation, and in Comey’s words, swear loyalty.
So, it seems the White House strategy is now to change the record after the fact and attempt to justify the firing of Comey in hindsight. Take the statement below by Trump Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, given at a White House briefing earlier today, where she went as far to say that perhaps Comey, himself, should be prosecuted, as an example. Via Politico:
‘That’s not the president’s role,” Sanders told reporters at the afternoon briefing, where she was asked if President Donald Trump would encourage the department to prosecute Comey. “That’s the job of the Department of Justice, and something they should certainly look at.’
‘Is that something you’d like to see?’ the reporter followed up.
‘I’m not sure about that specifically, but I think if there’s ever a moment where we feel someone’s broken the law, particularly if they’re the head of the FBI, I think that’s something that certainly should be looked at,’ Sanders replied.
She also said that “I think that has been shown in the days that followed, that the president was right in firing director Comey. Since the director’s firing, we’ve learned new information about his conduct that only provided further justification for that firing, including giving false testimony, leaking privileged information to journalists, he went outside the chain of command and politicized an investigation into a presidential candidate.”
Unfortunately for Trump, even if the firing of Comey proved to be 100 percent valid after the fact, if the intent when doing so was to impede an investigation and obstruct justice, the charge would still apply. There are other reasons to attack James Comey, though: it gives both the news media and Trump’s supporters something to focus on. In the case of the latter, it helps to cast doubt on the American justice system so that if Trump ends up impeached or indicted, his supporters will doubt the validity of charges. Calls to jail political opponents are also politically popular among Trump’s authoritarian supporters.
Trump thought Comey was “great” right up until Comey wouldn’t stop investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia. No amount of retroactive explaining is going to take away that fact for the one person for whom it matters: Special Counsel Robert Mueller. In fact, it’s entirely plausible that Trump’s continued attacks on James Comey constitute an ongoing attempt to evade and obstruct justice. With very few other options, Trump is lashing out and resorting to the one thing he knows best: projection.