Press: It’s amateur hour

Press: It’s amateur hour
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There’s nothing wrong with spin. Every politician does it. Every administration does it. The problem with the Trump White House is not that they spin, but that they’re so bad at it. Consider their lame response to former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The man who, until President TrumpDonald John TrumpKoch-backed group launches six-figure ad buy against Heitkamp Anti-abortion Dem wins primary fight Lipinski holds slim lead in tough Illinois primary fight MORE fired him, was the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, testified under oath that he could not trust the president of the United States, did not want to be alone with him again, was pressured to end the FBI’s investigation into Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russians and felt compelled to make written notes of his conversations with Trump because he was certain Trump might lie about them.

That’s about as serious an indictment of anybody’s character as you can imagine. And what’s the White House response? It’s fourfold: Trump didn’t really pressure Comey, Comey’s a coward, Trump’s just a novice and Comey’s a leaker. All four are laughable.

On dropping the investigation, yes, it’s true Trump told Comey, in their one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office on Valentine’s Day: “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go.” He didn’t say “Drop this investigation now, or else.” He didn’t have to. When your boss tells you “I hope you can start showing up for work on time,” it means: You’d better show up on time or you’ll be out of job. Which is exactly what happened to Director Comey. And, as Donald Trump, Jr. admitted to Fox News, when his daddy tells you something, “there’s no ambiguity.”

On not refusing on the spot, yes, it’s true, Comey did not directly confront the president by refusing to shut down the investigation. Instead, he decided simply to ignore the president’s request — which even Comey admitted might have been the “cowardly” response. But that doesn’t mean it was appropriate for Trump to make that request in the first place. By doing so, Trump clearly raises the issue of obstruction of justice, which Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now investigating.

On Trump’s being new to the job, as pleaded by Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone Overnight Regulation: FTC to probe Facebook over user data | FDA takes step to regulating flavors in tobacco products | Congress may include background check measure in funding bill Judge rules FEC wrongly dismissed complaint against conservative group MORE (R-Wis.): “He’s just new to this.” Oh, please! Trump knew enough to kick Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsGOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone FBI chief refuses to deny reports he threatened to resign amid pressure House Judiciary Chair expected to issue DOJ subpoena over Clinton emails as soon as this week MORE and Jared Kushner out of the Oval Office before dropping the hammer on Comey. He knew exactly what he was about to do, and he knew it was improper.

On Comey joining Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden as a “leaker”: ridiculous. There’s a big difference. Comey did not leak any government documents, nor any classified documents, only his own personal notes. And, when he did so, he was no longer a government employee.

What the White House doesn’t want to admit is twofold: One, under Robert Mueller, the focus has shifted from collusion with Russia to obstruction of justice. Two, the president is now the subject of a criminal investigation. No matter how hard the White House tries to spin it, that’s bad news for Donald Trump.

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of “Buyer’s Remorse: How Obama Let Progressives Down.”

The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.