The Jury Talks Back

3/18/2018

Trump Twitter Accusation Against Comey Creates Non-Existent Quote Out of Thin Air

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 4:00 pm

Earlier today, Carl Arbogast noted President Trump’s frenetic morning Twitter tirade, including this accusation that James Comey lied under oath:

Note that Trump puts this inside quotes, thus claiming that Grassley asked precisely this question in these words: “have you ever been an anonymous source…or known someone else to be an anonymous source…?” The money quote is the second phrase, because Andy McCabe testified, as Jerry Dunleavy noted yesterday, that Comey was aware that McCabe had authorized leaks:

The problem is that when you examine the actual testimony, it does not match up to what Trump put inside quotation marks:

GRASSLEY: Director Comey, have you ever been an anonymous source in news reports about matters relating to the Trump investigation or the Clinton investigation?

COMEY: Never.

GRASSLEY: Question two, relatively related, have you ever authorized someone else at the FBI to be an anonymous source in news reports about the Trump investigation or the Clinton investigation?

COMEY: No.

The question was not “have you … known someone else to be an anonymous source” but rather “have you ever authorized someone else at the FBI to be an anonymous source” about those matters.

In other words, Trump made up the money quote. “Authorized” is not the same as “known” — as I noted yesterday, and even Jerry Dunleavy conceded:

Indeed, McCabe’s position is that he had authority to authorize these leaks on his own.

This is not a total defense of Comey, of course. I agree with Dunleavy that there is an arguable contradiction there — indicating, if not an outright lie, then perhaps an, um, “lack of candor” on Comey’s part. It’s troubling and should be investigated further. You could argue that Comey’s knowledge constituted a sort of authorization (just as you could argue that it didn’t).

But that doesn’t give President Trump the right to make up quotes. Things inside quotation marks should be actual quotes. No matter how you feel about whether Comey lied, or whether his knowledge amounted to authorization — none of that changes the fact that Trump made up a quote that was not actually said in Comey’s testimony.

Neither President Trump nor anyone else should make up quotes. Period.

If he does so — and he unquestionably did here — he should be called out, just like we would call out someone on the left who did the same.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

2 Comments »

  1. If this wasn’t a meaningful inaccuracy (such as if he’d used “okay’d” instead of “authorized”), I’d be inclined to shrug and skip it, and chalk it up to having an imperfect memory. But, the wording change here is meaningful, so yes, it should be corrected.

    As for McCabe being authorized to leak on his own, how, exactly, could that be true? I mean, surely it’s not an explicit part of the formal job description for the post he held (it it was, he’d have shown it by now), and if not, then for it to be true somebody had to authorize it.

    Comment by Arizona CJ — 3/18/2018 @ 4:34 pm

  2. Why the government condones leaks.

    Comment by DRJ — 3/18/2018 @ 5:18 pm

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