Executive Branch

The Latest Shift in the President’s Take on the Clinton Investigation

Matthew Kahn
Friday, September 1, 2017, 1:00 AM

This morning, the president tweeted:

Published by The Lawfare Institute
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This morning, the president tweeted:

In a tweet storm, Benjamin Wittes made several points rebuffing the president’s suggestion that Comey acted inappropriately with respect to the Hillary Clinton email investigation. But one of Ben’s tweets stands out.

Here’s a point Ben missed: The president has at various times been both of these people.

On the day that then-FBI director recommended that no charges be brought against Clinton, the president criticized Comey for letting her off the hook, tweeting:

In October, after Comey announced in a letter to Congress that the FBI was reviewing additional emails, Trump affirmed that he thought Clinton should be investigated and praised the director for standing up to the system at a rally. He said: “It took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made in light of the kind of opposition he had where they’re trying to protect her from criminal prosecution.”

Then, in his letter dismissing Comey on May 9, the president “accepted [the] recommendation” of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s memo and suddenly joined the ranks of those who believed that Comey had mistreated Hillary Clinton in his handling of her investigation.

But if his comments to Lester Holt and Russian diplomats that the Russia investigation played a role in his decision didn’t manage to cast doubt on the sincerity of that rationale, today’s tweet certainly should: The President is now once again–as before he discovered Comey’s unfairness to Clinton–arguing that he treated her too leniently.

Matthew Kahn is a third-year law student at Harvard Law School and a contributor at Lawfare. Prior to law school, he worked for two years as an associate editor of Lawfare and as a junior researcher at the Brookings Institution. He graduated from Georgetown University in 2017.

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