Sean Hannity has thought up a new sobriquet for the press. No longer the “liberal media” or the “lamestream media,” they’re now the “destroy Trump media,” which, if you’re not privy to Hannity’s level of wit and subtlety, is so named because they’re trying to destroy Donald Trump. The Fox News host’s enemies list is expanding. It presently encompasses not just liberal journalists, but “sore loser Democrats,” “the deep state,” “establishment Republicans,” and “Never Trumpers,” all of whom are conspiring in a pentagram of nefariousness to take down our lionhearted president.
Last night, Hannity went off on yet another tear in his inimitable rhetorical style—think a dockworker crossed with a direct mail form letter crossed with a Fourth of July Sousaphone—over yet another leaked Trump scandal, this one the most serious of all: allegations that the president tried to pressure Comey into shutting down the FBI’s investigation of Michael Flynn. The New York Times has the story and they say there’s hard evidence in the form of a memo Comey drafted following his conversation with Trump, which bears legal weight in a court of law.
Again, skepticism is warranted and official corroboration is needed. As Hannity correctly notes, some of the leak-based stories about Trump have been wrong (though some have also been right), and Twitter is too quick to jump-start its anti-Trump outrage machine before the facts dribble in. As I wrote in my National Interest column last night:
If Comey was illegally accosted by Trump over the Flynn investigation, he needs to put his name to this story, testify about it in public as he’s offered to do, and turn over any additional information he might have to the pertinent congressional committees. No more anonymous quotes and no more errant speculation. This is very real and the stakes are high.
But it’s one thing to demand the evidence; it’s another in lieu of that evidence to smear everyone around you as a collaborator in an effort to destroy the president. How many more scandals does Trump need to weather before his defenders admit that maybe he’s part of the problem? How many more legitimate controversies—Trump University, illegal immigrants building Trump Tower, the psychotic lying over the inauguration crowd sizes, the firing of James Comey, the subsequent threatening tweet directed at Comey—need to accumulate before we accept the blindingly obvious?
Trump’s supporters are starting to remind me of Bill Clinton’s pathological henchmen of the 1990s, seizing on any scrap in their man’s favor to dismiss the lion’s share of damning evidence against him. And just as the Clintonistas attacked Ken Starr, so, too, is Team Trump blaming this entire mess on Comey:
I’ve written several times about that hospital incident—in which Comey and other Bush administration officials rushed to an ailing John Ashcroft’s bedside after learning that Andy Card and Alberto Gonzales were en route to persuade him into signing off on a surveillance program—and I have no idea what Davis is talking about. Much of Comey’s account was later corroborated by Robert Mueller, then head of the FBI, and several journalists who investigated the incident also backed his telling of events. Are we really going to dismiss Comey’s word in favor of Donald Trump’s? Is that how credulous we’ve become?
Then there’s MSNBC’s report this morning of an anonymous Republican legislator saying Comey only drafted the memo because he was aiming for a book deal. Yeah, no. Comey would have been negligent if he hadn’t recorded such a breathtaking conversation with the president. It’s fairly standard procedure at the Bureau even under lesser circumstances.
Fortunately, most of the right isn’t forming a phalanx around their pygmy. Cable news this morning has been vacant of Republican congressmen defending Trump and House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz even said he’s ready to start issuing subpoenas. But to everyone else, I ask: is this worth it? As we wait for the answers to come in, are you really prepared to wager your reputations on the innocence of Donald Trump? And if this memo is real, if Comey really did think Trump was obstructing justice, what will you say then?