Trump’s feeble effort to hide behind Rosenstein

A New York Times columnist, writes: the White House needed the cover of an honorable man making an honest case against Comey to disguise its own case against him, which is neither honorable nor honest. How do we know? By following @realDonaldTrump on Twitter.

“F.B.I. Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds!” the president wrote on May 2. “The phony Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election. Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign?”

Tell: After the president publicly impugned his own F.B.I. director, it meant Rosenstein’s memo was a pro forma, pretextual exercise.

Tell: When the president boasts about his great campaign, you know he’s less than sure about just how great it really was.

Tell: When the president calls news “fake” or a story “phony,” you know the truth quotient is likely to be high. And, again, you know he knows you know it.

All the more so thanks to reporting from The Times’s Matthew Rosenberg and Matt Apuzzo, who revealed Wednesday that Comey had only recently asked Rosenstein “for a significant increase in resources for the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election.” For the record, the Justice Department denies the claim.

For the administration’s apologists, the fallback line is that the Russia investigation will continue no matter who succeeds Comey. That might be credible if, say, the former New York Police Department commissioner Ray Kelly gets the job. And if Chris Christie or Rudy Giuliani gets it?

In all this, the riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma is Russia.

Golf courses: Russia. Mike Flynn’s lies to the vice president: Russia. Jeff Sessions’s lies to the Senate: Russia. Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Roger Stone: Russia. WikiLeaks: Russia. Donald Trump Jr.: Russia. The Bayrock Group: Russia. Erik Prince’s diplomatic back channel: Russia.

No one piece in this (partial) list is incriminating. And with Trump, the line between incompetence and nefariousness, misjudgment and misdirection, is usually a blurry one.

Still, Jim Comey’s firing now brings two points into high relief. First, the administration is not being truthful when it claims the director was dismissed for what he did last summer. Second, Donald Trump is afraid. A president who seeks to hide a scandal may be willing to risk an uproar. [Continue reading…]

The columnist? Bret Stephens.

I’ll confess, it’s the only column of his I’ve read from beginning to end, but it illustrates (at least for me) why any argument or piece of writing is best judged on its own merits rather than the predisposition the reader feels towards the author.

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