Does Trump Know What "Vindication" Means?
The White House found a silver lining amid the bombshells dropped in James Comey’s Senate hearing Thursday. Despite the former FBI director’s damning testimony, Trump declared himself vindicated in a Friday morning tweet, sparking ridicule about his big takeaway.
Comey had testified under oath the troubling exchanges he had with the president as FBI director, including that he assured the president privately that he wasn't under investigation, and that Trump repeatedly demanded Comey's loyalty. He even said that he kept written records of their conversations because of concerns that the president might lie about them.
The details of their communications were stunning, but Trump and many other Republicans focused on Comey's confirmation that Trump was not under investigation, calling it a victory. "Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication," Trump tweeted Friday morning, "and WOW, Comey is a leaker!"
That wasn't even what Comey's hearing was about, though — he appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee to testify about whether or not he felt Trump had interfered in ongoing FBI investigations, particularly pertaining to Michael Flynn and Russia. Although Comey said the president did not necessarily order him to stop investigating Michael Flynn, he took Trump's suggestion to "let it go" as a direction — one that he ultimately did not obey.
For all of these reasons, many people took to Twitter to point out that Trump's claims about feeling vindicated are as misplaced as they are confusing.
Nope, Not Convincing
Comey: He dangled my job. Demanded loyalty. Wanted Flynn case dropped. Wanted Russia cloud lifted. Fired me.— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) June 8, 2017
Trump: I'm totally vindicated!
As California Rep. Adam Schiff pointed out, Trump's feeling of vindication is completely at odds with what Comey actually said during his testimony.
"I Feel Vindicated"
Comey: 'The Russians, from Putin down, tried to get Trump elected'— Darth Putin (@DarthPutinKGB) June 9, 2017
Trump: 'I feel vindicated'
Given that Trump and many members of the GOP honed in on the Trump-was-not-under-investigation portion of Comey's testimony, the former FBI director likely could have said anything he wanted after that and Trump would still feel "vindicated."
Vindication Or Denial?
Trump declares bankruptcy.— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) June 9, 2017
Trump: "This shows my dealmaking skills. I'm vindicated."
Comey made some extremely worrisome remarks about Trump that called into question his compliance with the rules and guidelines governing the presidency. For Trump to take that as a vindication indicates that he either did not grasp the damning nature of Comey's comments, or that he simply does not understand the meaning of the word.
But What Does It Really Mean?
Paul Ryan did attribute Trump's behavior to him being "new to this," so his misunderstanding of the word "vindication," though a stretch, is a possibility.
Alone In Vindication
The president feels totally vindicated. pic.twitter.com/5ZClhQ0n74— Brad Heath (@bradheath) June 9, 2017
These newspapers certainly don't think so.
Here is one of three papers the President reads every morning.— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) June 9, 2017
And he says he was vindicated? pic.twitter.com/lWazLc8e6U
Trump and his fellow Republicans are definitely in the minority when it comes to thinking that Comey's testimony exonerated the president in any way.
I read Comey statement and see loyalty demands, improper requests, and improper meetings. Others see Trump vindicated? Parallel universes.— David French (@DavidAFrench) June 7, 2017
This is a particularly salient point. Although many people walked away from Comey's testimony concerned by Trump's actions, there were others — Trump and the GOP among them — that had a completely different interpretation.
Merriam-Webster Strikes Again
📈 'Vindication' and 'vindicate' are back at the top of the lookups this morning, following a tweet by the president. https://t.co/NntnhaURUX— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) June 9, 2017
The "covfefe" debacle may have been a bit too much for the dictionary, but it seems it has bounced back.
Can Lies Serve As Vindication?
The President's statement doesn't even logically make sense. If Comey is a liar, how can any of his testimony be taken to vindicate Trump?— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) June 9, 2017
Trump accused Comey of being a liar but simultaneously felt vindicated by his testimony. The president can't have it both ways, no matter how much he might want to. If Comey is a liar, then his testimony would not be have absolved the president of potential wrongdoings. But if he is telling the truth, then, well, Trump should be feeling worried, not vindicated.