Two Election Narratives

By Magnus Klaber | November 2, 2020

A two-part series and a documentary have been released right before the election about the 2016 Russia collusion, but they each have a different version of the story. The Comey Rule runs the narrative that Trump was colluding with Russia to win the election. The opposite narrative is in The Plot Against the President which claims that there was never Trump-Russia collusion but that the FBI framed Trump. Both stories were released before the election to set the record straight and they show two different worlds of facts that Democrats and Republicans believe in. Watching each story, these opposite narratives become evident.

The Comey Rule is based on former FBI director Comey’s bestselling book A Higher Loyalty which describes key moments in his career such as the Trump-Russia investigation and why it had to happen. It’s a two-part series and both parts use actors to play the real-life events. It starts with that the FBI has to open a case into Clinton’s emails before the election, but there’s no positive outcome for the FBI no matter what is found. This sets up that Director Comey will be criticized no matter what decision he makes. Meanwhile, the FBI finds Trump campaign advisors contacting Russians who may help Trump win the election. These advisers are Page, Flynn, Manafort, and Papadopoulos. The FBI people also receive the Steele dossier with alleged ties of Trump to Russia and they now believe an investigation into Trump-Russia collusion is necessary. Trump is confronted with this dossier in the first of his many private meetings with Comey, and he instantly denies all of its contents. From this point on, Trump loses confidence in Comey and becomes more hostile toward him in every meeting, in which he is portrayed as intimidating and authoritarian. In a key scene, Trump invites Comey for dinner in the White House and tells him he can keep his position as FBI Director. However, he tells Comey, “Nobody gets treated as unfairly as I do,” and he demands loyalty. Comey complies and reassures Trump he will be honest with him but that the FBI is not a political organization. Trump wants more private meetings but Comey is reluctant to go: while Obama made sure to keep the FBI “at arm’s length,” Trump is trying to keep the FBI Director too close which looks bad to the public. He tells Comey not to go after Flynn and asks, “I want to know what you can do to lift this Russia cloud.” Comey is basically asked to shut down the investigation and tell everyone Trump is innocent. Although Comey tries to stand his ground and keep his integrity, Trump loses patience and fires him. The FBI is shocked, but everyone there still respects Comey. The story also makes a big deal out of how Flynn was lying to the FBI and colluding with Russia. All in all, the story shows the complex situations Comey was in and despite that he could never come out of it clean, he stays faithful to the FBI and the rule of law while Trump is trying to subvert the FBI. The Russia collusion narrative is justified by laying out the contact between Trump Campaign advisors and Russia.

The Plot Against the President is based on journalist Lee Smith’s book in which Republicans accuse the FBI that it had no grounds to investigate the Trump campaign and that the FBI sabotaged Trump to eventually bring him down. They believe that the FBI people never cared about Russia and were always out to get Trump, but also Flynn. Russia Collusion was a fabrication of the FBI and an excuse for Democrats to delegitimize Trump and get rid of him. The documentary starts with a compilation of former U.S. presidents thanking their predecessors for the peaceful transition of power. This compilation ends with Obama saying, “The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy,” suggesting that Obama didn’t allow for a peaceful transition of power. The first person to speak is Republican Congressman Devin Nunes who is the central figure in the documentary. He was the first person to uncover the FBI’s scheme and that there was no evidence to investigate Trump-Russia collusion. Then, James Comey is attacked with claims that he has a career of fabricating crimes and forcing people into admitting crimes they didn’t commit – he is a dirty cop. Agitated commentators like Rudy Giuliani explained that Flynn, who was Trump’s national security advisor, was trapped into admitting crimes and that his contact with Russia was innocent. It was a “takedown” of Flynn by the FBI. The dossier with alleged ties of Trump to Russia is debunked. All the “ties” were lies made up by an opposition research firm and Trump haters, paid for by Hillary and the Democrats. The FBI never corroborated those rumors and used them as a basis to investigate Trump. Congressmen Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordan also make an appearance, as well as shouting RNC woman Kimberly Guilfoyle. Republicans are launching a final tirade about the FBI. They speak of “rogue law enforcement officials,” and an “overthrow of the election.” Donald Trump Jr. calls it “The greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” In the end, Devin Nunes is praised. His staff member Jack Langer concludes, “He stood up to the mob. He didn’t go along with the narrative. He thought the narrative that the Trump people had colluded with Russia was wrong, and he stood up and he said so in a time when nobody else was willing to do that.”

Both stories have made their point, and it’s interesting to get two completely different versions of events. The one makes the other more interesting. However, Russia collusion isn’t what moves voters to the polls, they have many other issues to vote for. These information campaigns before the election show that these people are creating the narratives more for the sake of themselves and that both sides really want to get the story right. 

The Comey Rule can be watched on Videoland and The Plot Against the President on Vimeo.