Trump’s failed ‘Comey tapes’ bluff is the nail in the coffin for U.S. credibility

Writing in The Atlantic this Thursday, David Frum pointed out how President Trump’s outright admission on Twitter that he doesn’t have any secret recordings of fired FBI Director James Comey marks the first time he’s ever retracted an untruth — or at least a perceived untruth.

That makes sense, considering that I took a double take when I first glanced at the tweet, thinking it might have been a parody account. But sure enough in two posts this Thursday morning, Trump walked back his past suggestion that he had secret recordings of his conversations with Comey, saying he had “no idea whether there are ‘tapes’ or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.”

Just three days after he fired Comey in May, Trump tweeted, “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

Many felt Trump’s remarks were intended to leave open the possibility that he sabotaged Comey. Whatever their intention, they only complicated Trump’s problems. As ABC News reports, on the same day Trump fired off the cryptic tweet, a bipartisan group from the House Intelligence Committee submitted a request to find out whether or not the recordings exist — all events that led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller today.

But Trump’s failed attempt to intimidate Comey to submission was more than just a strategical blunder; Frum says it has more important “real world consequences.”

“First, it confirms America’s adversaries in their intensifying suspicion that the president’s tough words are hollow talk,” Frum writes. “The rulers of North Korea will remember the menacing April 4 statement from the Department of State that the United States had spoken enough about missile tests, implying that decisive actions lay ahead—and the lack of actions and deluge of further statements that actually followed.”

With escalations like one we recently had with the Russians in Syria and Trump’s current “collision course with Iran,” Frum argues that there is “really very much to fear from a president who has alienated the big European countries—notably Germany—who once joined U.S. sanctions but who are now increasing their exports to Iran at a rate of almost 30 percent a year.”

In the wake of Trump’s admission this Thursday, there was an interesting exchange between ABC’s Jonathan Karl and White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, where he asked if Trump waiting over a month to reveal he had nothing was some kind of “game.”

“I don’t know that it was a game,” Sanders responded, which make me wonder how many in the White House even know what’s happening in Trumplandia anymore.

Featured image via Gage Skidmore (Flickr)



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