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Donald Trump, the Least Self-Aware Person on the Planet, Calls James Comey A “Showboat”

I know what you are, but what am I?

Every day the Comey firing becomes less like a slow-motion car crash and more like a multi-car pileup that a tractor-trailer fishtails into before exploding. Today Trump offered his latest version of the events that led to the FBI Director’s firing—this is at least the third or fourth revision—but at least this sounds like it contains kernels of the non-Russian truth. Trump says the firing was entirely his decision, and here’s why.

In his first extensive comments since the Comey firing, an interview with NBC News, Trump said of Comey, “He’s a showboat, he’s a grandstander, the FBI has been in turmoil.” Just humor me for a moment and turn that one around, because the first rule of Trumpspeak is that whatever he says is usually the opposite of the reality of the situation, and he’s often actually talking about himself. “I’m a showboat, I’m a grandstander, the Presidency has been in turmoil.” There, that makes much more sense.

I mean—seriously here, people. Has there ever in the history of American politics or American reality television been a more showboating grandstander than Donald Trump? And is there anything Donald Trump hates more than anyone hogging his spotlight? While Russian collusion is likely to be the nail in Trump’s Presidential coffin, I fully believe that he hated Comey’s high profile, tendency to speak and act independently, and refusal to toe the Trump party line.

It’s true that Comey’s public declarations on the Hillary Clinton e-mail situation are what earned him condemnation across the aisle. But it’s not like Comey’s on Twitter every night in the middle of the night insulting his detractors, calling the media fake, and issuing blatant lies about, say, how Obama and “wiretapp”s. Other than his statements and when he’s been called formally to testify, Comey keeps the low profile required for the nation’s top spook.

Trump went even further: “I was going to fire Comey. My decision. I was going to fire Comey. There’s no good time to do it, by the way. I was going to fire regardless of recommendation.” This directly contradicts the narrative put forth from the start of this catastrophe and stated by people like Sean Spicer, VP Mike Pence and Sarah Huckabee Sanders—that Trump was just following the recommendations of AG Sessions and deputy AG Rod Rosenstein. It seems like Trump is the only person left in the country who’s just kind of shrugging and going “fuck it” about the whole thing. Behold what Trump just tweeted as I am typing this:

Adding further fuel to our highway of burning cars is the fact that Trump is also now doubling down on his bizarre dismissal letter to Comey. Although that letter had put forth the Sessions/Rosenstein recommendation narrative, in its second paragraph Trump thanked Comey for assuring him “three times” that Trump wasn’t under investigation re: Russia. In the NBC interview, Trump doesn’t try to deny it. Heck, he took Comey to a cozy, intimate dinner. Per the Times:

Mr. Trump said Mr. Comey reassured him first at a private dinner and then two other times during phone conversations. He acknowledged that he had directly asked the F.B.I. director if he was being investigated.

“I said, ‘If it’s possible, would you let me know if I’m under investigation,’ ” Mr. Trump said. “He said, ‘You are not under investigation.’ ”

Remember when Bill Clinton had a brief meeting with Loretta Lynch on the tarmac of an airport while Hillary’s emails were under investigation and the Republicans and the conservative press had a multi-week nervous breakdown screaming about ethics? I await their condemnation of the jaw-dropping impropriety of the president asking Comey to tell him personal information about an ongoing investigation. They also discussed Comey staying on at the FBI at the same dinner, according to the Guardian, which is the least subtle form of threatening someone’s job I’ve seen outside of a restaurant scene in The Godfather. Only the mafia would never be this stupid.

It’s not technically illegal for Trump to have asked Comey these questions about the investigation, but it is highly, highly irregular and violates every expected protocol—not that there are many left in the Trump White House these days. My only hope was that if Comey really did tell Trump that he wasn’t under investigation for collusion with Russia, he was speaking on the technicality of “Not yet.”

(via The New York Times, The Guardian)

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Kaila is a lifelong New Yorker. She's written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.