Down the rabbit hole and through the looking glass, Fox & Friends opened Wednesday’s show with a bracingly novel theory: Former FBI Director James Comey could well be criminally liable for keeping notes on—but not immediately reporting—President Trump’s alleged request to quash the Mike Flynn investigation.
Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt—sandwiched between brunette Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy, the other Fox News blond on the sofa—argued that by withholding his memo to self about his private Oval Office chat with Trump the day after National Security Adviser Flynn was fired, “If you don’t report it immediately, then that’s against the law.”
To back up her interesting thesis, Earhardt read aloud from a Foxnews.com article by fellow Fox News anchor Gregg Jarrett, a defense attorney in a former life; Jarrett’s essay claimed that not only does Comey have nothing on Trump, he could even lose his law license and go to prison.
“By writing a memo, Comey has put himself in a box,” Earhardt recited, quoting Jarrett. “If he now accuses the president of obstruction, he places himself in legal jeopardy for failing to promptly and properly report it. If he says it was merely an uncomfortable conversation, he clears the president of wrongdoing and sullies his own image as a guy who attempted to smear the man who fired him. Either way, James Comey comes out a loser.”
“The reason I like the article,” Earhardt confided, “is it’s from an attorney’s point of view—what is law, what is fact, what’s legal, what is not. And he says it is illegal, if James Comey felt like the president was asking him to end an investigation, and he thought it was obstruction of justice, and he didn’t report it immediately—”
“If he didn’t report it immediately,” Doocy interrupted, because that’s what he does (per Gretchen Carlson), “was it because he thought the language was so vague?... He just said ‘I hope.’ He didn’t say ‘I order you’ or ‘I command you to do that.’ And if he [Comey] felt it was vague, that means essentially there was no case there. It was too ambiguous. ”
Brian Kilmeade chimed in: “I will say this: It’s amazing that the FBI director feels so comfortable to put a surrogate up there—unless he just happened to leave his notes out—to call The New York Times to push back. This is a law-and-order guy. Why do you feel so comfortable leaking out your journal to a New York Times reporter?”
“There was clearly a leaker in the FBI, who was friends with Comey, and didn’t like the fact that he was fired,” Earhardt added.
Predictably, Doocy said Comey has probably been memorializing his conversations with government officials over a long career in Washington—so Doocy is, of course, curious to see Comey’s copious notes on the nefarious comments of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and their own attempts to obstruct or escape justice.
“I heard somebody say on the radio, it was his get-out-of-jail-free insurance policy,” Doocy said about Comey’s memos. “It is interesting that we would see this particular FBI agent’s notes through the lens of The New York Times…”
Give the friendly Fox News folks credit—they were straining to do their level-best, even if it risked a mental hernia, to put a smiley face on Trump’s latest—as White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders might described it—“atrocity.”
But even Doocy had to admit that it was “dumb” for the president to raise the subject of the Flynn investigation with the FBI director. And, after running a clip of Trump foreign-policy adviser Sebastian Gorka, the White House’s resident Hungarian fascist, claiming the Comey memo is “no longer fake news, it’s now dishonest news,” Kilmeade acknowledged, “That is a bit of a stretch. This isn’t fake news. That’s real news. Anybody would be reporting that.”
But lest anyone think that objective reality was beginning to overwhelm the proceedings, the show also focused on unfair Democratic attacks on the president and, in an off-topic report, the seething patriotic outrage greeting “disgraced soldier Chelsea Manning” getting released early from prison because of Obama’s commutation.
Later in the program, Earhardt teased a segment about the real story (as Trump would have it): the illegal leaks from the White House and the intelligence community that have been causing so much presidential heartburn—and the unconscionable bias of the mainstream media.
“Another day, another attack on the President Trump by the media,” Earhardt announced. “Has activism replaced journalism?”—a rhetorical question, to be sure.