Littwin: In the Trump-Comey spitting match, is anyone winning or is everyone losing?

In the midst of the longest run of self-inflicted wounds known to man, Donald Trump caught a huge break.

And then, of course, he tossed it away.

Trump’s nemesis, Jim Comey, has a book out — “A Higher Loyalty” — currently being supported by Comey’s impossible-to-miss TV extravaganza, from which the headline is that Trump is “morally unfit to be president.” That’s a fairly obvious message, but still devastating when it comes from the former head of the FBI, even if the former head was, in fact, fired by the morally-unfit guy.

But the story does not end there. In the course of explaining Trump’s inarguable unfitness, his need to lie at every turn, his constant demand for personal loyalty, Comey, who trades on his well-known rectitude, ends up in a spitting match with the champion Twitter-spitter himself.

Trump calls Comey a slimeball.

In the book and on the air, Comey is telling us that Trump is like a mob boss, which he may be, but come on.

Trump says Comey is a liar and a leaker.

Comey tells us about Trump’s orange complexion and Trump’s smaller-than-Comey’s hands, which, he concedes, are not inordinately small.

Trump says Comey belongs in jail.

Comey writes of the alleged Trump pee tape and Trump’s concern that there was a 1 percent chance (or maybe more?) his wife would believe it.

This was all being played on Trump’s court, which Comey should have avoided at all costs. He’s supposed to be the sober, impartial symbol of the FBI — and not the one reminding us of the role he played in Trump’s election. (Quick analysis: Comey said he got involved with the Clinton emails with 11 days to go before Election Day because he didn’t want Trump’s team to be able to say the FBI helped rig the election. That rings perfectly true. It also rings like a cracked bell. So, Comey wouldn’t have come forward with a story that might have swung the election if he thought Trump was going to win? That’s his excuse?)

OK, Trump was winning the spitting match by drawing Comey into it. That’s the only place he does much winning. It’s not that anyone thinks Comey isn’t telling the truth about every meeting he had with Trump or every suggestion of Trump’s obvious lack of integrity. It was that, after a few days of the Comey tour, the spitting match became all that anyone was talking about, until, of course, the Michael Cohen/Sean Hannity story hit.

But then, as I said, Trump threw it all away. We go back to Russia. We always go back to Russia. The Russia investigation was why, Trump has admitted, he fired Comey. The firing is the reason Comey’s book will be a huge bestseller. And to put it all in perspective, Comey’s dismissal led directly to the hiring of special counsel Mueller, which leads directly to the question whether Trump will create a constitutional crisis by firing Mueller. (My guess: He will try to, eventually.)

We go back to Russia because Comey thinks Russia might have something on Trump. He said as much in his interview with George Stephanopoulos that aired Sunday night. On Sunday morning, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley had said that new sanctions against Russia would be in place by Monday. And The Washington Post ran a weekend story saying that Trump was getting rolled by his foreign policy team, which kept forcing Trump to go much harder on Russia than he wanted.

 It was a humiliating story — not unlike the many such stories that just won the Post a Pulitzer that it shared with The New York Times — in which we learned that Trump, after expelling 60 Russians for the poisoning of the former spy, was furious to learn that France and Great Britain had expelled only four apiece. He thought his advisers had told him they’d each expel 60, too. Trump was upset because — get this — everyone was saying how tough he was.

To show that he wouldn’t be tough on Vladimir Putin, he would overrule/humiliate Haley, saying there would be no more sanctions for now, and repeating, through his spokesperson, that there’s no reason why we can’t be friends with Russia. You know, even if Russia is, along with Iran, propping up the very Syrian dictator whose chemical weapons plants Trump had just bombed.

Personally, I thought the bombing was futile and accomplished nothing. From what I read from many of the experts, I doubt a prolonged bombing would accomplish much more. I agree that gassing is a particularly horrible act, but if you want to stop the horrible acts in Syria, where 500,000 or more have died in the war there, a quick strike at some chemical sites doesn’t even begin to do that, particularly when Trump had just said he was ready to pull out the remaining American troops.

So, what was Trump trying to accomplish? What’s the message to North Korea? To Iran? These guys must have thought, what the hell? That’s apparently what Bashar al-Assad thought.

Why was Trump’s tough-guy, mission-accomplished speech accompanied by an accomplishing-nothing-much missile attack? Why, oh why, did Trump overrule his foreign-policy team on more sanctions against Russia, which Trump said would pay “a big price” for its enabling of Syria’s chemical weapons? 

Why do you think?

This is what Comey said when Stephanopoulos asked about whether Russia had anything on Trump: “I think it’s possible. I don’t know. These are more words I never thought I’d utter about a President of the United States, but it’s possible.”

With Trump’s latest unsurprising Russia response, you obviously can’t help but at least wonder, as many have, about the possibility. And so Comey doesn’t so much win the week as Trump, once again, loses it.

Photo courtesy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, via Flickr: Creative Commons


  1. Elections have consequences.

    “Hiding news that doesn’t fit an ideological or a partisan agenda is perhaps the worst form of media bias. And it’s one more reason the public holds the press is such low esteem.” – Investor’s Business Daily

    “(Mr. Trump) won’t be president. He was sliding in the polls before the video, and the video now means that he has no way to climb back. Which independent voter, which suburban woman, which Main Street Republican on the fence is going to vote for Trump now?” – Mike Littwin

    Magical thinking: The belief that one’s own thoughts, wishes, or desires can influence the external world. It is common in very young children. – Radiotherapy

    President Trump 306 Electoral votes
    Hillary Clinton 232



    In a week dominated by news of a successful American-led coalition air strike that degraded Syrian chemical weapons capability, Mr. Littwin has chosen instead to devote a column to a book tour interview by former FBI Director James Comey.

    Yes, Mr. Littwin did mention the Syrian air strike but buried those comments deep, deep in the bowels of the column where he admitted, “Personally, I thought the bombing was futile and accomplished nothing.”

    And while Mr. Littwin claims to have read the opinions of many experts here are two he missed:

    This from the New Yorker’s Dexter Filkins,

    “There has been plenty of speculation, too, about President Trump’s motivations in attacking Syria, but what matters here are the results. Assad deserves whatever he gets, and if the strikes ordered by President Trump have the effect of deterring even one other chemical-weapons attack, then we should all be glad.

    (The 2013 chemical weapons attack Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ordered against the Syrian city of Douma) prompted President Barack Obama to strike a deal with Assad to surrender all of his chemical weapons. That agreement now looks like an American humiliation.”

    Who is Dexter Filkins? Well, on at least two occasions Mr. Littwin has described him as “the great Dexter Filkins” which makes one wonder why his opinion was ignored. Maybe “great” has an expiration date!

    Then there’s this by The Federalist’s Paul Bonicelli:

    “On Friday, the United States, France, and the United Kingdom launched twice as many missile strikes against Syria’s chemical weapons capability as the United States did last year on its own. The United States has twice struck Bashar al-Assad’s regime for crossing President Donald Trump’s red line, and the second time did so in coalition with European powers and hit harder.”

    It must be pointed out, too, that Mr. Littwin’s opinions are, well, not exactly engraved in stone. They shift and morph with the current political climate. But then Mr. Littwin has never really embraced any abiding principles and his opinions are only meant to last as long as it takes to write the column they appear in.

    And while Mr. Littwin rails against any Republican whose opinions do not remain strictly consistent he has exempted himself from that same unrealistically rigid restraint. That’s why being a columnist is so much fun! You can point out others’ inconsistencies while ignoring your own.

    Take, for example, Mr. Littwin’s ever shifting I-love-him-I-love-him-not opinion of former FBI Director James Comey. Please. This is how the very flighty Mr. Littwin characterized Mr. Comey in July, 2016:

    “FBI Director James Comey, whose reputation as a truth-teller was forever sealed when he served as deputy attorney general in the Bush administration, was the clear winner in the Hillary Clinton email story/scandal. In fact, he was pretty much the only winner.”

    Less than four months later Mr. Littwin decided that rather than being “the clear winner” Comey was “extremely careless” in his handling of the Hillary Clinton email scandal.

    You can’t make this stuff up!

    But wait, there’s more: Mr. Littwin then accused Comey of trying to “cover his ass” because Comey felt his reputation was more important than the “future of the country”

    You can’t make that stuff up, either!!

    So how does Mr. Littwin reconcile those contradictions about who James Comey is? That’s a trick question, he doesn’t. He simply ignores them. And the Colorado “We take the role of journalism as a public trust very seriously” Independent turns a blind eye to Mr. Littwin’s, well, rather unorthodox version of “journalism”.

    Yet apparently and amazingly Mr. Littwin appears willing to reevaluate Comey yet again solely because Comey is willing to call President Trump a “mob boss” or “morally unfit to be president.” and willing to say “Russia might have something on (President) Trump”.

    Mr. Littwin is easy to please.

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Greenlight a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Special Operations Warriors Foundation

    Veterans Day – November 11, 2018

  2. All of these smear attempts directed at James Comey speak volumes more about Trump than Comey. They reinforce Americans’ view of Trump as someone who is undisciplined, incompetent and impulsive. Let the scumbag-in-chief smear on…

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