WaPo fact checks Trump's "Comey lied" tweet with curious results

The President once again had the press collectively setting their hair on fire this weekend with yet another tweet. This one had to do with statements released by the recently unemployed Andrew McCabe and how they matched up with sworn testimony given by then FBI director James Comey last year. Admittedly, it looked like a bit of a victory dance.


This was in reference to a couple of questions Chuck Grassley asked Comey during those hearings regarding whether or not he’d ever been an anonymous source for the media or if anyone else in the FBI had. Comey said no, but now we know that McCabe had spoken to a reporter about the investigations in question. Further, McCabe went on to say that, “It was not a secret … and others, including the Director, [Comey] were aware of the interaction with the reporter.

Over at the Washington Post, Avi Selk, writing for The Fix, quickly leaped into action to fact check the President’s tweet. If you read the introduction to the piece you would conclude that they’d caught Trump in a pants-on-fire falsehood so everyone should ignore it, move along and get on with their lives.

The president (not for the first time) cited “Fox & Friends” as evidence for his claim. But Trump misrepresented what was said on Sunday’s talk show — and misquoted the Senate hearing at which Comey testified.

As with many of the president’s 2,400-plus erroneous statements, it will take more words to explain what Trump got wrong and why it matters than it did for him to mangle the truth.

So according to the WaPo, Trump “misrepresented” the coverage, “misquoted” the testimony and “mangled the truth.” Clearly, his claim must be a real whopper, right? There’s only one problem with that conclusion, however. Selk goes on for more than two dozen additional paragraphs and completely fails to negate the basic substance of what the President tweeted, nor does he bail Comey out of trouble.

The Fix goes to great lengths to point out that the President tweeted that Grassley asked Comey if he had, “known someone else to be an anonymous source.” What he was actually asked was, “have you ever authorized someone else at the FBI to be an anonymous source?” Wow. Good one, Fix. You really nailed him there. Except it would be kind of hard to not know about it if he’d authorized it, eh?

Selk then goes on to focus on McCabe’s statement about the leak. As a reminder, here’s what it said: “I was one of only a few people who had the authority to do that,” McCabe wrote, defending the leak. “It was not a secret, it took place over several days, and others, including the Director, were aware of the interaction with the reporter.”

Amazingly, The Fix then proceeds to state that neither the hosts on Fox nor the President managed to “clarify how Comey was lying.” Well, let’s see. Comey was asked quite directly if he ever authorized someone else at the FBI to be an anonymous source. His answer was simply, “No.” This was a game effort by the WaPo to discredit both the President and Fox News, but how long can The Fix dance on the head of a pin here? McCabe said he was authorized to leak and that Comey knew about it. Who else was available to give the Deputy Director that authorization except for the Director?

Finally, 21 paragraphs into this story, Selk gets around to admitting that the Fox hosts the President was referencing “may have a point regardless.” He admits that McCabe’s statement “raises questions” about Comey’s testimoney last year… “even if it does not directly contradict it.”

Seriously? If it doesn’t contradict it, what’s the alternate explanation? One of these two people were lying. Either Comey lied under testimony or McCabe is lying now to cover his backside. Either way, the people that require fact checking aren’t Trump or the hosts of Fox & Friends. It’s the FBI. But fact checking them probably doesn’t generate as many clicks for the Washington Post.

Jazz Shaw Jun 22, 2021 6:01 PM ET