President Donald Trump has responded to the firestorm over his dismissal of FBI Director James Comey with a series of angry tweets attacking both Comey and Democratic critics.
The president started off with a sneak preview last night, when he insulted “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer” and suggested Schumer was a hypocrite to oppose Comey’s firing. (The moniker is a reference to when Schumer publicly teared up while criticizing Trump’s immigration and travel order back in January.)
Cryin' Chuck Schumer stated recently, "I do not have confidence in him (James Comey) any longer." Then acts so indignant. #draintheswamp— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2017
This morning, Trump picked up where he left off, in an attempt to portray criticism of his dismissal of Comey as mere partisan hackery from Democrats (even though several congressional Republicans have criticized the move too):
The Democrats have said some of the worst things about James Comey, including the fact that he should be fired, but now they play so sad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2017
But even though Democrats have been harshly critical of Comey’s behavior in the Hillary Clinton email investigation, relatively few called for his actual firing — an act with little modern precedent. And for the most part, Democrats preferred Comey in the job investigating potential Trump associates’ and campaign ties to Russia rather than a replacement who would be hand-picked by the president.
Trump soon followed this up by attacking Comey himself, claiming his successor would “do a far better job”:
James Comey will be replaced by someone who will do a far better job, bringing back the spirit and prestige of the FBI.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2017
After this, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) appeared on CNN and said Trump’s actions present “a looming constitutional crisis that is deadly serious.” In an apparent response to these comments, the president of the United States lashed out at Blumenthal, called for an investigation into him, and mocked him for supposedly crying “like a baby”:
Watching Senator Richard Blumenthal speak of Comey is a joke. "Richie" devised one of the greatest military frauds in U.S. history. For....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2017
years, as a pol in Connecticut, Blumenthal would talk of his great bravery and conquests in Vietnam - except he was never there. When....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2017
caught, he cried like a baby and begged for forgiveness...and now he is judge & jury. He should be the one who is investigated for his acts.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2017
In 2010, Blumenthal came under criticism for a pattern of using ambiguous language that could leave the impression he served in Vietnam when he did not, and in one case an outright false statement that he served there. He apologized and said that in that one statement, he misspoke.
But it’s quite a stretch for Trump to call this “one of the greatest military frauds in U.S. history,” and even more of a stretch to say that Blumenthal (rather than, say, Trump associates’ ties to Russia) “should be the one who is investigated.” As political scientist Brendan Nyhan asks on Twitter, “What would you say if you saw this in another country?”