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GOP leadership scrambles to spin Comey memo release as bad for former FBI director and not for Trump

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The cable news shows were quick to seize on the release of the memos by former FBI director James Comey. However, everything discussed seemed to be about issues that weren’t entirely flattering to the president. Still, the Republican Congressional leadership tried to spin that the memos made Comey look bad.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC), and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) released a statement attacking the former FBI director.

“We have long argued former Director Comey’s self-styled memos should be in the public domain, subject to any classification redactions. These memos are significant for both what is in them and what is not,” their statement began. “Former Director Comey’s memos show the President made clear he wanted allegations of collusion, coordination, and conspiracy between his campaign and Russia fully investigated. The memos also made clear the ‘cloud’ President Trump wanted lifted was not the Russian interference in the 2016 election cloud, rather it was the salacious, unsubstantiated allegations related to personal conduct leveled in the dossier.”

As a fact-check, the memos reveal that the president said over and over again that there was no collusion. They provided no proof, evidence or information one way or the other.

“The memos also show former Director Comey never wrote that he felt obstructed or threatened,” the statement also said.

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That is correct, instead, the memos illustrate the frequent requests by the president about Russia. The obstruction case has more to do with the president’s interview with NBC News reporter Lester Holt in which Trump admits he fired Comey as a result of the Russia investigation.

The Republicans then move to call out Comey for not taking contemporaneous notes about his conversations with President Barack Obama. It’s unclear if he did or did not take notes of conversations with Obama, though in his book, Comey details conversations with the former president, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other leaders.

Those commenting about the release of the memos on Twitter noted that the president has spent the past year assailing those who “leak.” In this case, it was the GOP leadership that provided the unflattering leak.

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MSNBC’s Chuck Todd wondered what the House GOP was hoping to accomplish by releasing the memos.

“Nothing I’ve read seems to change Comey’s story and if anything, these memos give more, not less, credence to the dossier,” he tweeted.

University of Texas School of Law Professor Steve Vladeck noted that the bluff by the House GOP “may have backfired spectacularly.” Unless it was their goal “to dramatically bolster Comey’s credibility.”

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