If Democrats are looking for an outside-the-box campaign pitch for next fall that might move casual voters, here’s one: Vote Trump out and you’ll never have to hear from James Comey again. Once the president who fired him is gone, all remaining relevance that this big scold has to the political scene will evaporate.
Last night I and many others posted the clip of him telling a California TV station that he preferred to see Trump dealt with at the ballot box. That was surprising given the enormous momentum towards impeachment among Trump antagonists, of which Comey is an especially prominent example. Now here he comes to clarify that he was against impeachment before the Ukraine story broke big.
Some media are quoting me from last week about my hope that America will remove Donald Trump by an election, not Impeachment. But we may now be at the point where members of the House and Senate can’t uphold their own oaths to support and defend the Constitution without acting.
— James Comey (@Comey) September 25, 2019
The charitable interpretation of his reversal is that he realized belatedly that there has to be *some* threshold of misconduct that would justify impeachment. That doesn’t mean the Ukraine incident crossed that threshold (in fact, Comey declines to say specifically that it does), but it’s goofy to dismiss impeachment out of hand categorically just because you want American voters to have the opportunity to undo their own electoral mistake.
The less charitable interpretation is that Comey realizes his remaining relevance as a well-known Trump critic was about to get splattered if he stepped in front of the Democrats’ accelerating impeachment train. The party has decided that It’s Time and Comey can either come along or enjoy retirement.
Hillary has also weighed in again on impeachment today, by the way. She’s clearer about her feelings on the Ukraine matter than Comey is:
The president of the United States has betrayed our country.
That’s not a political statement—it’s a harsh reality, and we must act.
He is a clear and present danger to the things that keep us strong and free.
I support impeachment.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 25, 2019
And of course she’s a bigger target for the White House than Comey is:
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) September 25, 2019
It’ll be a few days before we see any useful polling on the Ukraine accusations and impeachment, but YouGov is out early with numbers this afternoon:
That’s a good result for Democrats but I bet those numbers can and will move *a lot* depending on how the precise question is phrased. In fact, YouGov actually did rephrase it and got a notably different result. When they asked if it’s appropriate for the president to threaten withholding aid to a foreign country if that country refuses to take an action “which personally benefits the president,” the 48/19 result in the graph above among Republicans suddenly shrinks to 31/41 in favor of believing that the president’s actions are inappropriate. By the same token, imagine if the question stressed that the president’s political opponent really is under suspicion of misconduct in trying to protect his son’s foreign business by pressuring a foreign government. The numbers who believe the president behaved appropriately would surely rise across the board in that case, and doubtless rise a lot among Republicans. It’s a spin war. The better Republicans are about educating the public on Hunter Biden’s shady relationship with Burisma, the less objectionable Trump’s interest in seeing the Bidens investigated will be.