Before James Comey's highly-anticipated Senate testimony this week, President Donald Trump delivered a special message to the FBI director he recently fired: Good luck.
Comey is set to appear before the Senate intelligence committee on Thursday -- and it appears that Republicans from the president on down are aiming their crosshairs on the man first appointed as the United States Deputy Attorney General under former Republican president George W. Bush.
Ahead of his highly anticipated public testimony on Thursday, Trump’s White House and its allies are crafting a strategy to undermine Comey’s credibility.
Asked if he had a message for Comey as the president welcomed Republican lawmakers to the White House on Tuesday, Trump only offered: “I wish him luck.”
A source familiar with Comey's thinking recently told ABC News that Comey's testimony will make the president uncomfortable. When the president fired Comey early last month, Trump wrote a letter to Comey saying that he "greatly appreciate[d] you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation.”
But a memo allegedly written by Comey detailed a conversation between him and Trump earlier this year in which the president allegedly said, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go," referring to the FBI’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Trump has also added to the controversy by suggesting that he might have "tapes" of his conversations with Comey.
Trump reportedly called Comey a "nut job" during a rare Oval Office meeting with top Russian officials.
Comey “put politics over protecting America,” a narrator for a new 30-second attack ad, titled “Showboat,” says. Trump, of course, called Comey a “showboat” in an interview following the controversial firing. The ad from Great America Alliance, a pro-Trump group formed to advocate for his administration, accuses Comey of being “consumed with election meddling” even as “terror attacks were on the rise.”
Meant to erode confidence in Comey’s credibility, the ad also characterizes the career Justice Department official as "just another DC insider only in it for himself."
The anti-Comey ad will begin running online on Wednesday and appear on CNN and Fox News while Comey testifies on Thursday, the AP reported.
Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders recently went after Comey by criticizing Democrats who disapproved of his firing, noting that "in Washington, we finally had something that I think we should have all been able to agree on, and that was that Director Comey shouldn't have been at the FBI." Top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway also said on NBC on Monday that Comey gave inaccurate information the last time he was under oath, adding that many Democrats "detested this man" until the president fired him.
"If Comey really thought the president had crossed a line he would have reported it and he didn't," Ronna Romney McDaniel, the head of the Republican National Committee, recently said on Fox News Radio.
The RNC chair called on Republicans to rally around Trump as Comey’s congressional testimony draws near. But if the attitudes on display at last weekend’s North Carolina GOP Convention are any indication, Comey has long been spoiled by Trump.
“There’s nothing about Jim Comey that I trust,” Republican state Sen. Ron Rabin told McClatchy.
“The whole thing with Russia is nonsense,” a GOP activist in the swing state added.
According to a recent poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, 63 percent of Republicans still believe Comey was fired for poorly handling the investigation into Hillary Clinton emails.