Comey targets media blitz to promote book

Former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyA question of privilege: How Trump could still gut the Mueller report The damning proof of innocence that FBI likely withheld in Russian probe Nadler: Half of Trump probe targets likely to comply with document requests MORE is going to be an inescapable presence this week.

Comey, whose firing by President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoint Chiefs chairman denies report that US is planning to keep 1K troops in Syria Kansas Department of Transportation calls Trump 'delusional communist' on Twitter Trump has privately voiced skepticism about driverless cars: report MORE directly led to the appointment of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE, will launch a media tour for his tell-all book on Sunday, renewing a feud with Trump that is likely to dominate political talk for the week.

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The fight got a head start late last week when explosive excerpts from the tell-all began dribbling out, but the stakes will only grow when Comey appears Sunday night in a special edition of ABC's “20/20” for a sit-down with news anchor George Stephanopoulos.

The interview has already been heavily hyped, with the anchor telling viewers that Comey compares Trump to a “mob boss.”

Other stops for Comey as he promotes “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership,” include interviews with Fox News's Bret Baier, CNN’s Jake Tapper and PBS’s Judy Woodruff.

On April 25, Comey — dubbed a “slime ball” in a Trump tweet Friday, will appear at a town hall on CNN hosted by Anderson Cooper at Comey’s alma mater of William & Mary.

The former FBI director is also making the rounds on opinion and entertainment programs.

He will appear on ABC’s “The View” and CBS’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” in addition to MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

All of those shows have hosts critical of the president, giving Comey a favorable audience if he chooses to throw some broadsides at Trump.

The media blitz means Comey will be an ever-present force on television as cable news networks undoubtedly run and rerun segments of his interviews across the media landscape.

"It's going to be the media equivalent of the carpet bombing of Tokyo," said Jon Levine, media reporter for The Wrap, an online publication covering entertainment and media. "It has the potential to eclipse everything we saw from Michael Wolff. Provoking Trump into additional responses on Twitter and elsewhere is now part of the equation."  

To combat the Comey news cycle, the Republican National Committee has launched “LyinComey.com” to defend the president and attack the FBI leader.

The site includes quotes and video clips from people who have cast doubt on Comey, including Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerWhy we need to build gateway now Campaign to draft Democratic challenger to McConnell starts raising funds Schumer congratulates J. Lo and A-Rod, but says 'I'm never officiating a wedding again' MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiMulvaney: Military projects impacted by wall funding haven't been decided yet Left-wing Dems in minority with new approach to spending Julian Castro hints at brother Joaquin's Senate run MORE (D-Calif.).

Trump can also be expected to take repeated aim at a chief nemesis through Twitter, as he did early Sunday morning in calling him a "slimeball" for his handling of the Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP lawmaker defends Chelsea Clinton after confrontation over New Zealand attacks Klobuchar: Race, gender should not be litmus tests for 2020 Dem nominee Kirsten Gillibrand officially announces White House run MORE email investigation in a tweet to his more than 50 million followers.

 

 

In subsequent tweets, Trump said "big questions" were not answered in Comey's "badly reviewed book" and that the former FBI director threw former Attorney General Loretta Lynch "under the bus!" 

Anticipation for Comey’s book is high.

When he appeared before a congressional panel last June, it became must-watch television. Bars opened early for group gatherings as Comey discussed his interactions with the president who fired him.

Comey is currently #1 on Amazon's best-seller list, suggesting his book is likely to sell. Anti-Trump books have been doing well. Michael Wolff's “Fire and Fury” continues to land on The New York Times best-seller lists months after its release.

"We’ve seen a huge audience for books about the Trump administration, and the early signs indicate the trend will continue with Comey’s book," says Jason Shepard, chair of the Department of Communications at California State University, Fullerton. 

"Comey had a front-row seat to the major controversies of the Trump campaign and the first months of the Trump presidency. People are eager to read Comey’s version of events, in his words," he adds. 

Comey has stung both parties with his actions before and after the 2016 election, and has already come under some stern criticism over his book — which comes as the Mueller investigation appears at a crisis point with Trump.

Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton blamed Comey for costing her the White House by announcing days before Election Day that he was reopening an investigation of her use of a private email server.

“If not for the dramatic intervention of the FBI director in the final days we would have won the White House,” Clinton wrote in her own book released last year, “What Happened.”

In an excerpt of his book, Comey writes that he feared if he had not made that decision, Clinton might have looked like an “illegitimate president.”

Trump has been even more critical of Comey, who he has repeatedly blamed for leaking information to the press. He has said Comey’s leadership at the FBI was “a disaster.”

In March, after Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsO'Rourke on impeachment: 2020 vote may be best way to 'resolve' Trump House Judiciary Dem, Republican clash over details of Whitaker testimony DeVos moves to allow religious groups to provide federally funded services to private schools MORE fired Comey’s former deputy, Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeGraham says he'll probe Rosenstein's 25th Amendment remarks The damning proof of innocence that FBI likely withheld in Russian probe Delaney jabs at Trump, says he believes US intel community over Putin MORE, Trump tweeted about lies and leaks, and said “Comey knew it all, and much more.”

Comey responded with a reference to his book, saying on Twitter that the American people would hear his story very soon and “can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not.”

A Department of Justice inspector general report is expected to be made public soon, and it could include some stark criticisms of Comey right in the middle of his book tour.

The inspector general is looking at allegations that Comey committed misconduct in the investigation of Clinton, including with a press conference in July 2016 at which he criticized the former secretary of State but said no charges would be brought against her. The inspector general is also looking at Comey’s decision to tell Congress the FBI was reopening its review days before the election.

The report is also expected to criticize McCabe for leaking information to the press, and may criticize Comey if it is believed that he knew about or approved the leaks.

--This report was updated at 8:15 a.m.