Horowitz: Comey Goes After Trump Where He is Most Vulnerable

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

 

View Larger +

Rob Horowitz

In his new book and in the first of what promises to be a series of interviews that receive saturation-level media coverage, former FBI Director James A. Comey goes directly after President Trump on his character and his fitness to lead. Comey’s arguments are likely to strike a responsive chord with the overwhelming majority of the public because he is reinforcing their pre-existing views of President Trump. Most voters do not trust the president and believe his behavior falls far short of what the office demands. 

Additionally, whether or not people believe that James Comey made an ill-advised decision to publicly announce he was reopening the Hillary Clinton email investigation 11 days before the general election or made other big mistakes as FBI director, his credibility and reputation for telling the truth, despite the best efforts of the White House to undermine it, remain fairly high.  By a substantial 48% to 32% margin, Americans find him more believable than President Trump, in a recent Washington Post/ABC News Poll.  And in his interview with George Stephanopoulos that aired in prime time Sunday night, he came across as believable and compelling as he has in interviews throughout his long public career where he forged a well-earned reputation for integrity and independence.

Comey paints a devastating picture of the president based on his up-close observations.   In his book, which moved to number one on Amazon before its’ official release today,  the former FBI director writes, This president is unethical, and untethered to the truth and institutional values. His leadership is transactional, ego-driven, and about personal loyalty.”

He elaborates by saying that the president triggered, “flashbacks to my earlier career as a prosecutor against the mob. The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth.”

Comey sounded the same themes in his interview with Stephanopoulos: “There is something more important that should unite all of us, and that is our president must embody respect and adhere to the values of the country. The most important thing being truth.  This president is not able to do that. He is morally unfit to be president.”

 In an artful tweet responding to President Trump calling him a ‘slime ball” among other choice insults, Comey continued along similar lines, comparing Trump unfavorably to the two other Presidents he served, Bush and Obama: “My book is about ethical leadership & draws on stories from my life & lessons I learned from others. 3 presidents are in my book: 2 help illustrate the values at the heart of ethical leadership; 1 serves as a counterpoint.”

There are damaging specific instances in the book as well, such as Comey’s observation that after being briefed about all the ways that the Russians meddled in the 2016 election by the heads of the major intelligence agencies, President Trump and his team had no questions about the substance and moved immediately into a conversation about how to best spin it.

But the lasting takeaway is a well-rounded portrait of the deficient character of President Trump and its potentially dangerous consequences for our democracy.  President Trump and his allies all-out assault on Comey, which so far has been dominated by repetitious name calling is likely to do little to dent the compelling picture the former FBI Director paints.. After all, it is a picture that for most Americans, now having watched President Trump in office for more than a year, rings all too true.

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.

 

Related Slideshow: GoLocal: Benchmark Poll, October 2017

View Larger +
Prev Next

Sponsor: GoLocalProv

Sample: N=403

Rhode Island General Election Voters Margin of Error: +/- 4.9% at 95% Confidence Level

Interviewing Period: October 9-11, 2017

Mode: Landline (61%) and Mobile (39%)

Telephone Directed by: John Della Volpe, SocialSphere, Inc.

View Larger +
Prev Next

Are you registered to vote at this address?

Yes: 100%

View Larger +
Prev Next

When it comes to voting, do you consider yourself to be affiliated with the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, Moderate, or Unaffiliated with a major party?

Unaffiliated: 49%

Democrat: 32%

Republican: 15%

Moderate: .4%

View Larger +
Prev Next

Next year, in November of 2018, there will be a statewide general election for Governor and many other state offices. How likely is it that you will vote in this election?

Will you definitely be voting, will you probably be voting, are you 50-50...

Definitely be voting: 78%

Probably be voting: 13%

50-50: 9%

View Larger +
Prev Next

In general, would you say things in Rhode Island are headed in the right direction or are they off on the wrong track?

Right track: 39%

Wrong track: 45%

Mixed: 10%

Don't know/Refused: .6%

View Larger +
Prev Next

What would you say is the number one problem facing Rhode Island that you would like the Governor to address?

Jobs and economy:  21%

Education: 12%

Taxes: 12%

Roads: 12%

State budget: 9%

Corruption/Public integrity: .8%

Healthcare: 3%

Governor: 3%

Homelessness: 2%

Immigration: 2%

Other: 7%

Don’t know: .9%

View Larger +
Prev Next

Over the past three years or so, would you say the economy in Rhode Island has improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?

Changed for the better: 35%

Changed for the worse: 16%

Not changed at all: 43%

Don't know/Refused: 5%

View Larger +
Prev Next

Over the same time, has your family's financial situation improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?

Changed for the better: 26%

Changed for the worse: 19%

Not changed at all: 54%

Don't know/Refused: 1%

View Larger +
Prev Next

Recently, a proposal has been made to permit the issuance of $81 million in bonds by the State to build a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox. If there was an election today on this issue, would you vote to approve or reject issuing $81 million in financing supported moral obligation bonds to build the stadium?

Net: Approve: 28%

Definitely approve: 15%

Probably approve: 14%

Net: Reject: 67%

Probably reject: 19%

Definitely reject: 48%

Don't know: 4%

View Larger +
Prev Next

Could you please tell me your age?

18-24: 7%

25-34: 15%

35-44: 15%

45-54: 20%

55-64: 17%

65+: 25%

Don't know/refused: 1%

View Larger +
Prev Next

What was the last grade you completed in school?

0-11: 2%

High school grad: 16%

Technical/Vocational school: 1%

Some college: 23%

College grad: 34%

Graduate degree: 24%

Don't know/refused: 1%

View Larger +
Prev Next

The next question is about the total income of YOUR HOUSEHOLD for the PAST 12 MONTHS. Please include your income PLUS the income of all members living in your household (including cohabiting partners and armed forces members living at home).

$50,000 or less: 27%

More $50,000 but less than $75,000: 13%

More $75,000 but less than $100,000: 13%

More $100,000 but less than $150,000: 17%

$150,000 or more: 13%

Don't know/refused: 17%

View Larger +
Prev Next

What particular ethnic group or nationality - such as English, French, Italian, Irish, Latino, Jewish, African American, and so forth - do you consider yourself a part of or feel closest to?

American/None: 21%

English: 13%

Italian: 13%

Irish: 12%

Black or African American: 6%

Latino/Hispanic: 6%

French: 6%

Portuguese: 3%

Jewish: 3%

German: 1%

View Larger +
Prev Next

Would you say that Donald Trump has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as President?


Excellent: 13%
Good: 12%
Fair: 14%
Poor: 57%
Never heard of:  0%
Cannot rate: 3%

View Larger +
Prev Next

Would you say that Jack Reed has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?

Excellent: 22%
Good: 29%
Fair: 23%
Poor: 15%
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate: 6%

View Larger +
Prev Next

Would you say that Sheldon Whitehouse has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?

Excellent: 17%
Good: 22%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 28%
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate: 7%

View Larger +
Prev Next

Would you say that David Cicilline has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?

Excellent: 9%
Good: 29%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 27%
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate:  8%

View Larger +
Prev Next

Would you say that James Langevin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?

Excellent: 7%
Good: 30%
Fair: 20%
Poor: 18%
Never heard of: 13%
Cannot rate: 11%

View Larger +
Prev Next

Would you say that Gina Raimondo has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Governor?

Excellent: 6%
Good: 28%
Fair: 30%
Poor: 31%
Never heard of: 1%
Cannot rate: 3%

View Larger +
Prev Next

Would you say that Daniel McKee has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Lieutenant Governor?


Excellent: 3%
Good: 16%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 8%
Never heard of: 26%
Cannot rate: 25%

View Larger +
Prev Next

Would you say that Peter Kilmartin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Attorney General?


Excellent: 3%
Good: 20%
Fair: 28%
Poor: 17%
Never heard of: 13%
Cannot rate: 19%

View Larger +
Prev Next

Would you say that Seth Magaziner has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as General Treasurer?

Excellent: 4%
Good: 18%
Fair: 24%
Poor: 13%
Never heard of: 21%
Cannot rate: 21%

View Larger +
Prev Next

Would you say that Nellie Gorbea has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Secretary of State?

Excellent: 5%
Good: 21%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 10%
Never heard of: 20%
Cannot rate: 23%

View Larger +
Prev Next

Would you say that Jorge Elorza has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Mayor of Providence?

Excellent: 4%
Good: 24%
Fair: 24%
Poor: 22%
Never heard of: 9%
Cannot rate: 15%

 
 

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

 
 

Sign Up for the Daily Eblast

I want to follow on Twitter

I want to Like on Facebook

X

Stay Connected — Free
Daily Email