President Trump called former FBI director James B. Comey an “untruthful slime ball” on Friday, but counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway harked back to an earlier insult.
“When the president fired Jim Comey, he gave an interview to a different network, where he did note that the man is a ‘showboat’ and a ‘grandstander,’” Conway said on “Fox & Friends.” “I’ll add sanctimonious. I think people are seeing that.”
Conway was reacting to excerpts from Comey’s forthcoming memoir, which were published by The Washington Post and other news outlets that obtained copies before next week’s release.
Comey has lined up a busy interview schedule to coincide with his book’s publication, which includes but is not limited to “20/20” on Sunday, NPR and Stephen Colbert on Tuesday, “The View” on Wednesday, Rachel Maddow on Thursday, a CNN town hall on April 25 and Bret Baier’s Fox News show on April 26.
“I find it to be pretty self-aggrandizing,” Conway said of Comey’s tell-all and tour.
While the “untruthful slime ball” label might fail to stick — a Washington Post-ABC News poll released on Friday showed the public trusts Comey’s word over Trump’s — the “showboat” tag could be effective, as Comey basks in the limelight.
Matthew Miller, a former Justice Department spokesman, talked mostly favorably about Comey in an interview with The Fix’s Aaron Blake last year but Miller did say this:
There’s one thing I agree with the president on: That Comey is a showboat. You just look at his actions in the [Hillary] Clinton case, where he made himself the central player when there was no reason for him to be the central player. That aside, his entire history shows that he likes to be at the center of attention.
Comey is certainly the center of attention now — no small feat at the end of a week that included Trump’s foreshadowing of a military strike on Syria, an FBI raid of the home and office of Trump attorney Michael Cohen, a retirement announcement by Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and two days of congressional testimony by Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg.
“I think he is a man of integrity,” Miller said, “but he also thinks of himself very much as a man of integrity and likes the spotlight that highlights that.”
That Comey is promoting himself does not mean that what he says is untrue, but he risks inflicting a case of Comey fatigue on the public. One White House strategy appears to be to cast Comey as a publicity hound, in hopes that voters will tire and tune out.
Comey could be playing into Trump’s hand, in this regard.