It took a while, but Donald Trump finally uncorked a Twitter rant against his nemesis James Comey. The day after the release of Michael Horowitz’s damning inspector general report on the former FBI director, Trump blasted Comey for attempting a “coup” against his administration. Trump helpfully ended his tweetstorm with the Fox & Friends clip that apparently inspired it, in which former CIA analyst and “Democratic strategist” Bryan Dean Wright demanding more action against “Comey, [former CIA director John] Brennan, and the rest of these characters”:
Both Wright and Steve Doocy criticized Attorney General William Barr for not imposing “consequences” on Comey for his “coup” attempt. If Trump and Barr don’t press charges, Wright says, it will result in one of two damaging outcomes. Either conservative elements in the intelligence/law enforcement communities will attempt a coup in the next Democratic administration as revenge, or outrage will force the disbanding of these agencies — both of which would be dangerous to the US, Wright warns.
That’s the kind of argument that would have set off a righteous attack from Trump on his previous AG and his lack of action against Trump’s political enemies. Curiously, however, Trump used the opportunity to praise Barr for his restraint:
Somewhere in Alabama, Jeff Sessions is beating his head against his desk.
Trump’s correct about Barr’s restraint, although it’s surprising to see Trump value that. The Horowitz report speaks for itself in laying out all of the ways in which Comey abused his authority and access for political purposes, but prosecuting him over the leaks would have been very difficult. Technically, Comey mishandled classified information, but selling that to a jury when the material (but not the information itself) was only classified retroactively would have been tough. A prosecution would have looked more political than a non-prosecution.
So why is Trump so sanguine that “Comey got lucky” after making the former FBI director one of his main betes noires over the past two years? Perhaps Trump sees the Comey report as vindication enough for his attacks. It might also be that Trump expects Horowitz’ next report on the broader issues of Operation Crossfire Hurricane to be even more damning, and maybe provide stronger evidence of actionable misconduct. This report was just an appetizer, after all — if a coup really was attempted, that’s the main course.