The National Today

Republican Party takes aim at James Comey's credibility

A closer look at the day's most notable stories with The National's Jonathon Gatehouse.

Newsletter: A deeper dive into the day's most notable stories

Former FBI director James Comey's highly anticipated memoir is set to hit stores on April 17. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

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TODAY:

  • Former FBI director James Comey's memoir hits stores Tuesday, and Republicans have launched a campaign to undermine his credibility
  • Canada is running short of EpiPens
  • Ghanaian athletes stage what might be the shortest boycott ever at the Commonwealth Games in Australia
  • Missed The National last night? Watch it here


Trump's No. 1 enemy

The Republican Party is striking back at James Comey.

The former FBI director's highly-anticipated memoir is set to hit stores on Tuesday, but the campaign to undermine his credibility has already begun in earnest.

Yesterday, the Republican National Committee unveiled a new website called Lyin' Comey. The slick page features a number of unflattering photos of the 57-year-old, along with critical quotes about his record at the FBI from both members of the GOP and Democrats.

A screenshot of the Republican National Committee's website, lyincomey.com, which went live April 12.
There are also links to videos, a "fact check" section about Donald Trump's decision to fire him last May, and a curated selection of the president's anti-Comey tweets. (Although this morning's outburst, where Trump called him an "untruthful slimeball," is curiously absent.)

The party has also sent a series of talking points to its legislators and Trump's cable-TV surrogates to try and ensure that the counter-offensive sticks to three main themes: Comey's supposed "misconduct" at the FBI, the notion that he is a disgruntled former employee, and the fact that Democrats didn't like him much either.

Revelations from Comey's 304-page tell-all, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, are already trickling out. They include several unflattering anecdotes about the President's erratic behaviour, and attempts to sideline an investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Excerpts from Comey's book 'A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership' have prompted Donald Trump to tweet, 'James Comey is a proven LEAKER & LIAR.' (Brenda Smialoski/AFP/Getty Images)
ABC television will broadcast the first feature interview with the ex-FBI director on Sunday night, and then there will be a host of other network media appearances, including the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Comey is also embarking on national book tour, which will see him speak in front of paying audiences across America. In some cities, demand is so high that tickets are being scalped for as much as $850.

The book is already a runaway success, having occupied the top spot on Amazon's best-seller list for almost a month — all thanks to pre-orders.

Comey walks through a corridor on the way to his testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in Washington on June 8, 2017. He is embarking on national book tour, with tickets in some cities being scalped for as much as $850 US. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)
The Republican attacks may play well with Trump's all-but-unshakeable base, but it seems others find Comey more credible than the president.

An ABC News-Washington Post poll released today asked 'Who is more believable?' and 48 per cent of respondents said Comey, versus 32 per cent who favoured Trump. In the random national sample of 1,002 adults, there was an almost identical split over the president's decision to fire him as FBI director, with 47 per cent saying they disapproved versus 33 per cent who said it was the right move.

The far worse news for Trump is that in the same poll, 90 per cent of Democrats and 70 per cent of independent voters support the ongoing investigation into his campaign's possible collusion with Russia. And 43 per cent of Republicans now do too.

All of which raises the question of who is buying the Republicans' heavy-handed attacks.

Like this fake book cover.


EpiPen supply problems

Canada is running short of EpiPens — again.

Yesterday, Health Canada issued an advisory about the life-saving injectors, saying that their maker, Pfizer Canada, has told them that supplies of the adult 0.3 mg EpiPen, and the children's 0.15 mg EpiPen Jr., are low.

The national inventory of both products is being "carefully managed," the statement says.

Pfizer attributes the shortage to "delays" at its manufacturing facility and "limited third-party quantities of a component for the product."

Pfizer Canada has told Health Canada that supplies of the adult 0.3 mg EpiPen, and the children's 0.15 mg EpiPen Jr., are low. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
The problems are expected to be resolved by the end of May, the company says.

In the meantime, Health Canada is telling people suffering from severe allergic reactions that it's OK to use expired auto-injectors, or call 911.

There are several other brands of epinephrine pens on the market, but they are not sold in Canada.

EpiPen shortages have become commonplace in the past year, following a worldwide recall over reports that some of the devices wouldn't work properly during life-threatening allergy attacks.

Pfizer Canada attributes the shortage of EpiPens to delays at its manufacturing facility and 'limited third-party quantities of a component for the product.' (Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)
Last November, Bloomberg obtained U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports via a Freedom of Information request that detailed 228 complaints of EpiPen or EpiPen Jr. failures through the first nine months of 2017. Malfunctions had been cited in seven deaths and 35 hospitalizations, according to the reports.

Pfizer told Bloomberg that it was "confident in the quality, safety and efficacy" of the EpiPens manufactured by its American subsidiary, Meridian Medical Technologies.  

Earlier in the fall, the FDA had taken Meridian to task for "multiple violations" at its Brentwood, Mo., facility. "You failed to thoroughly investigate multiple serious component and product failures for your EpiPen products, including failures associated with patient deaths and severe illness," said a warning letter posted on the FDA's website. "You also failed to expand the scope of your investigations into these serious and life-threatening failures or take appropriate corrective actions, until FDA's inspection."

EpiPens can be quickly self-injected when a person suffers a severe allergic reaction. (Shutterstock/Rob Byron)
Pfizer Canada says the current shortage is not related to the issues identified by the FDA.

EpiPens are in limited supply in other countries as well.

This week, the British Press reported on pharmacist fears of "life or death situations" should they run out of the in-demand devices.

Australian allergy sufferers have been struggling with dwindling inventories of the pens since last fall.

Pfizer Canada issued its last warning about adult EpiPens three months ago, saying it would have "no inventory" of the devices for two to four weeks. At the time, the company said it anticipated that the problem would be resolved by the beginning of March.


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Ghana's Commonwealth Games revolt

Ghanaian athletes staged what might be the shortest boycott ever at the Commonwealth Games in Australia today.

The 72-member team was angry at the government's failure to pay them their full $100 per diem for the 23-day event on the Gold Coast, with most reportedly still owed $400 to $600 as of this morning.

So they organized via WhatsApp messages and announced they would stay away from Sunday's Closing Ceremony unless paid-in-full, with some competitors even threatening to seek asylum in Australia after the Games.

Nadia Eke of Ghana competes in the Women's Triple Jump final at Australia's Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games on April 10. (Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
Then Ghana's 4x100m men's relay team — tipped as a possible medal winner — really upped the ante, and simply didn't show for their heat.

The escalating protest captured the government's attention in record time. Within hours, Ghana's ministry of sports and the country's Olympic Committee were saying that all the outstanding per diems had been paid and the boycott had been resolved.

"We — the GOC and the ministry — are disappointed at the action taken by athletes," Charles Osei Asibey, the communications chief for the Olympic Committee, told an Accra radio station. "Even though their monies had delayed, I think it was unnecessary to revolt … We didn't want them to keep so much money on them."

It's just the latest embarrassment for the West African nation during the 10-day sporting competition.

Ghana's Jessie Lartey is punched by Canada's Thomas Blumenfeld during their men's 64 kilogram semi-final Commonwealth Games boxing match on April 13. (Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images)
Yesterday Ghana's president, Nana Addo Dankkwa, suspended a deputy minister and top sporting official over a visa scam that saw 60 people falsely accredited as journalists for the Games.

The group raised the suspicions of the Australian Border Force when they arrived in the country without computers, cameras or other journalism equipment, and were unable to answer basic questions about athletes or the sports they claimed to be covering.

The Australians had already busted a group from India who were trying to enter on journalists' visas, but turned out to be farmers.

Atsu Nyamadi of Ghana competes in the Men's Decathlon Discus on April 10. (Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Ghana has had some feel-good moments at the Games on the Gold Coast. Locals adopted their cycling team, providing them with new bikes and gear, responding to a call put out by a bike shop owner after he noticed that the athletes were competing on dangerously worn tires.

And today, the country struck its first podium of the Games — and second-ever Commonwealth medal — a tie for bronze in men's light welterweight boxing.

With two days of competition remaining, Ghana is tied for 33rd place on the medal table.  

Canada, with 74 medals, including 14 golds, sits fourth.


Quote of the moment

"I may get those records in my next lifetime."

- Michael Dagg, a 70-year-old Ottawa researcher, on Library and Archives Canada asking for an 80-year extension on a recent Access to Information request for files from Project Anecdote, an RCMP investigation into money laundering and public corruption launched in May 1993. The anticipated 29,200 day processing delay pushes the disclosure date to at least 2098.


What The National is reading

  • Russia says Syrian 'chemical attack' was staged (BBC)
  • Trump calls James Comey a 'slimeball' in latest Twitter rant (CBC)
  • Duterte threatens to arrest ICC prosecutor (Al Jazeera)
  • They called this Grade 9 girl 'disgusting' and 'ugly.' She fought back (CBC)
  • Russia tested nerve agent on door handles before Skripal attack, U.K. claims (Guardian)
  • How 879 days of space flight changed a cosmonaut (National Geographic)
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Poet's remains found in wine cellar (Independent)
  • Woman loses €60,000 claim over go-kart crash buttock injury (Irish Times)

Today in history

April 13, 1972: Richard Nixon is happy to be in Canada

"The weather may be cool, but the welcome is very warm, and for this we are very grateful," Dick Nixon tells a large and enthusiastic Ottawa crowd. In between his historic visit to China and stop in Moscow, the U.S. president took some time to stroke America's northern neighbour, praising the shared, unguarded border and commitment to peacefully resolving differences.

The American president cheerfully praises his North American neighbours. 6:21

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About the Author

Jonathon Gatehouse

Jonathon Gatehouse

Has covered news and politics at home and abroad, reporting from dozens of countries. He has also written extensively about sports, including seven Olympic Games and a best-selling book on the business of pro-hockey.