Republicans put forth a series of contradictory talking points ahead of James Comey’s Senate testimony Thursday ― hailing it as a victory for President Donald Trump, yet simultaneously diminishing the fired FBI director’s character.
After Comey and the Senate Intelligence Committee released his opening statement Wednesday afternoon, Republicans seized upon his confirmation that the FBI was not investigating Trump personally.
“President Trump was right. Director Comey’s statement reconfirmed what the president has been saying all along ― he was never under investigation,” Republican National Committee chair Ronna Romney McDaniel said in a statement.
Trump’s response, through his outside counsel Marc Kasowitz, who is handling all matters related to the Russia investigations, struck a similarly victorious tone.
“The President is pleased that Mr. Comey has finally publicly confirmed his private reports that that the President was not under investigation in any Russia probe,” Kasowitz said in a statement. “The President feels completely and totally vindicated. He is eager to continue to move forward with his agenda.”
Late Wednesday, the RNC released a list of suggested talking points for Republicans responding to Comey’s testimony. Chief among them were casting Comey’s testimony as vindication for Trump and confirmation that the president “did not impede or engage in obstruction of justice” (which is not within the purview of Comey or the committee to judge).
Yet Republicans have also tried to smear Comey as untrustworthy. Another GOP talking point says that “Comey has a long history of blatant contradictions and misstatements.”
Earlier this week, the Trump-affiliated Great America Alliance released a campaign-style attack ad against Comey, blasting him as a “showboat” and “another DC insider only in it for himself.”
So which is it?
By hailing Comey’s testimony as vindication, Republicans seemed to abandon their initial approach. When Comey and the Senate Intelligence Committee released his opening statement Wednesday afternoon, the RNC quickly tweeted a gif dismissing the statement as lacking substance.
The response drew widespread mockery.