By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – It isn’t every day that a Republican National Committee website features a news clip of Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. But these are not ordinary times.

And there is Schumer, on a new site designed to undercut the credibility of former FBI Director James Comey as he begins a promotional tour for his new tell-all book “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership”, saying in regard to 2016 statements by Comey about the FBI probe of Hillary Clinton’s email habits: “I was appalled by what Director Comey did.”

Elsewhere on the website, the RNC that tries to claim Comey cleared the White House of Russian probe obstruction, when in fact his public testimony to the contrary triggered his firing.

Also under fire – Comey’s character and motives, a line of attack pursued by White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, who claims Comey “does what a lot of people do these days, which is take unnecessary, immature pot shots at the president’s appearance. And I supose that’s a good way to sell a book, but its no way to comport one’s self.” An ironic remark given the president’s longstanding proclivity for personal remarks.

As political dialogue goes these days, that’s standard fare. But in a tweet this morning, the president took things to a new level calling Comey not just a “leaker and liar,” but also a “weak and untruthful slimeball,” language that made a top local Republican uncomfortable.

“I think that sort of rhetoric is something I dont find effective or moves the conversation forward, certainly, and I wouldn’t be advocating for that type of discussion,” Massachusetts GOP Chair Kirsten Hughes told WBZ News.

But that’s where it’s headed, as the president’s allies react to the Comey book’s attacks – including a comparison of Mr. Trump to a mob boss – with scorched-earth rhetoric of their own.

Chief Trump cheerleader Sean Hannity on Fox News of the Comey book’s release said, “It’s the moment liberals and the Trump-hating press have been so anxiously waiting for.”

It’s always been a staple of the Trump playbook – when critics hit him, he punches back ten times harder. But it was his firing of Comey that dramatically accelerated his problems in the first place. And it’s likely the nasty back-and-forth with Comey, instead of changing any minds, will be yet another distraction from the story the Trump White House would prefer to be telling.

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