Democratic strategist James Carville appeared on MSNBC today and spent his seven-minute segment chewing the scenery over the letter released Friday by FBI Director James Comey. Carville said that if Comey’s investigation did not turn up something damning (Comey has already said he doesn’t know what is in the emails) then his announcement was, “in effect, an attempt to hijack an election.”
Carville was asked by MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts if Comey would have been accused of a cover up if he had sat on the discovery of additional emails and it turned out, after the election, there was something damning in them. But Carville clearly came with some talking points and he stuck to those throughout the interview. “First of all let’s start at the beginning. He was acting in concert and coordination with the House Republicans. End of story,” Carville said. “He gave the letter to him, they gave it to Fox News,” Carville said, apparently referring to Rep. Jason Chaffetz.
“Also we have the extraordinary case of the KGB being involved in this race, in selectively leaking things from the Clinton campaign that they hacked,” Carville said. “American democracy is really under attack here and the question is how are we, in particular how are Democrats, going to respond to this,” he added.
Roberts tried to turn away from Russian involvement back to the email investigation noting that “James Comey was praised in July by everyone,” Carville seemed to become angry. “You know what John Maynard Keynes said? When the facts change I change my mind, what do you do?” Carville spat back. Carville then demanded to know, “Why are you defending this? Why are you sitting here, when our democracy is under assault, when the FBI is acting at the behest of Jason Chaffetz and sitting here acting like this is something legit? It’s not. It’s an effort to affect this election.”
Carville went on to pronounce questions about how Democrats treated Comey in July as a “distraction” saying, “We ought to be talking about our democracy being under assault right now and what are we going to do about it and not what somebody said in July about James Comey. That’s a distraction. That’s not what’s going on.” Carville then accused Roberts of “making excuses for Comey.”
Near the end of the interview, Carville said the letter was an attempt to “hijack” the election. “Why are you talking about something somebody said in July,” Carville asked again. “Comey’s such a great guy make it public, come on tell us what there is. And if there’s not something substantial, and I mean really substantial, then this is a…this is, in effect, an attempt to hijack an election and it’s got to be called for what it is,” Carville said.
A couple of points on all this. First it seems clear that the Clinton campaign has decided to go all in on attacks against FBI Director Comey. Carville isn’t saying Comey made a mistake or that he was in a tough position, he’s accusing him of meddling in the election in coordination with the GOP.
Second point, Carville turns pretty quickly to attacking Thomas Roberts for pointing out, entirely fairly, that Democrats were singing another tune about Comey just a few months ago. Maybe he just lost his temper or maybe this is meant to be a signal to other news people, i.e. mention our glaring hypocrisy and the attack dogs will turn on you too, media.
Third and finally, Carville is intentionally tying the Comey letter to Russian hacking efforts even though this extended investigation doesn’t stem from that. The source of these newly discovered emails was a laptop belonging to Anthony Weiner. The FBI was investigating Weiner because he was sexting a 15-year-old girl. That’s why this came up. It’s not because of Russia. You certainly don’t get that impression listening to Carville and I’d bet that was on purpose.
Here’s the full exchange. If Clinton wins this election we’re in for at least four years of this sort of wild attacks against anyone who poses a threat. It’s the Clinton way.