Picture this poor bastard at his desk, trying to prepare for today’s briefing when suddenly Trump’s tweet about taping Comey rolls by on his screen. The buzz in Washington is that Trump is a fan of Sarah Huckabee Sanders and that Spicer’s on thin ice but I wonder if Spicer will surprise everyone by quitting soon instead. He’s famous enough already that he can land a well-paid corporate PR job somewhere. It’s not worth the aggravation to stay on, never knowing when you might need to throw together a multi-pronged communications strategy about the director of the FBI being fired or the president kinda sorta admitting to secret Oval Office recordings with 15 minutes’ notice or whatever.
He knew he’d be grilled today about Trump’s tweet so he and Trump certainly discussed it beforehand. If the answer is no, Trump never taped Comey, then Spicer would have said that at the briefing forthrightly: Nope, never happened, heard it straight from the boss’s mouth 20 minutes ago. Next. If the answer is yes, Trump did tape Comey, then Spicer would have said anything but that. Dodge the question by any means necessary — I’m not personally aware of any recordings, the tweet speaks for itself, I’m not going to elaborate, etc etc etc etc. When you can’t say no because the answer’s yes but you can’t say yes because it’s too damaging, do your best to say nothing. Those were his options, no or Glomar.
Watch the clip.
Spicer does NOT deny that Trump recorded Comey or has a White House recording system: “the president has nothing further to add” pic.twitter.com/s84oYAvBpp
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) May 12, 2017
Democrats naturally are behaving like five-year-olds who just came downstairs on Christmas morning:
The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), said Friday that if President Trump has any recorded conversations with former FBI Director James Comey, he must release them to Congress…
“If the President has ‘tapes’ of his conversations with Director Comey, it is because the president himself made them,” Schiff said in a statement. “For a President who baselessly accused his predecessor of illegally wiretapping him, that Mr. Trump would suggest that he, himself, may have engaged in such conduct is staggering.”
“The president should immediately provide any such recordings to Congress or admit, once again, to have made a deliberately misleading — and in this case threatening — statement,” Schiff added.
Other House Democrats sent their own letter: “Under normal circumstances, we would not consider credible any claims that the White House may have taped conversations of meetings with the president. However, because of the many false statements made by White House officials this week, we are compelled to ask whether any such recordings do in fact exist.” Everyone assumes that the midterms will be fought over health care (if the GOP passes something) or the economy, but the Comey business supercharges a more visceral appeal Dems have to their base: Hand us back the House and we’ll get to the bottom of everything. Business conflicts of interest, tax returns, secret Comey tapes, the Russia probe — all we need is control of the committees and subpoena power and we’ll put Trump through the wringer. Policy disputes are well and good, but when you really want to build excitement, promise that you’ll punish your voters’ enemies. There’s a reason Trump fans chanted “lock her up” during the campaign. The Comey firing gives Democrats a reason to chant “lock him up” next year.
Might not do much to motivate independents, though. The latest poll on the Comey firing, from Gallup, has approval/disapproval of the move at 39/46, yet another result that’s in line with Trump’s overall job approval. This is good fodder for party loyalists on both sides but the mass of more apolitical voters doesn’t seem to be tilting hard one way or the other. If Republicans and Dems want to win over indies, health care might be the ticket after all.