James Comey, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), swears in to a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

GOP Moves to Discredit Comey Before Tell-All Memoir Is Published

(Bloomberg) -- The Republican party is rallying its army of surrogates to discredit former FBI Director James Comey as publication nears for his book recounting his tumultuous tenure in President Donald Trump’s administration.

The Republican National Committee circulated a set of talking points to prominent supporters Thursday, including claims that Comey damaged the FBI’s reputation, leaked agency documents to the press after being fired, and that he was widely criticized by Democrats, many of whom had called for his resignation, according to a document obtained by Bloomberg News.

“James Comey has a long history of misstatements and misconduct,” the Republicans say in the document, which also describes him as a “consummate Washington insider who knows how to work the media to protect his flanks.”

The party committee also activated a website, “Lyin’ Comey,” featuring quotes from prominent Democrats who have criticized the former FBI director in the past.

White House officials have asked the FBI if the agency cleared the book, and were told that it had been read by a bureau team and reviewed for classified material or details that could compromise ongoing investigation. Two people familiar with the matter said that the FBI requested only minor changes and that Comey and the publisher agreed.

Comey’s book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, And Leadership,” is scheduled to be released April 17. The memoir promises a deep look at Comey’s fraught relationship with the U.S. president who fired him, and whom Comey has accused of interfering in the independence of the FBI.

Trump dismissed Comey in May, setting off a storm of charges from Democrats that the president sought to hinder an investigation into whether his campaign colluded with Russians. Shortly afterward, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller to take over the Russia investigation.

Trump this week intensified his criticism of the probe after the FBI searched the home and office of his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, on Monday. He has attacked both Mueller and Rosenstein, and many of Trump’s supporters have called on the president to fire both men. Lawmakers from both parties have warned that such a move would set in motion a political calamity, and possibly a constitutional crisis.

The RNC argues in its talking points that Comey contradicted himself in testimony about whether Hillary Clinton mishandled classified information, and criticizes his “bizarre decisions,” such as claims that he usurped the authority of then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch to justify closing the Clinton email investigation.

“Comey’s misconduct damaged the FBI’s reputation and seriously called into question his credibility,” the Republicans say in the document.

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