The Pathetic Comey Spectacle

Former FBI director continues his lying self-righteous preening.

Disgraced former FBI Director James Comey is making a pathetic spectacle of himself as he pitches his book with a whirlwind media blitz. Comey’s Sunday interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC managed to achieve higher ratings than its floundering American Idol lead-in. However, the ratings did not even rise to half the number of viewers who tuned into the Stormy Daniels interview on CBS’s Sixty Minutes last month. Each interview was a tawdry attempt to smear President Trump. However, compared to Comey’s self-righteous façade under which he sought to obscure his own misdeeds of lying to Congress under oath and leaking information he prepared while still the FBI director, Stormy Daniels came across as the more believable interviewee.

Comey told Stephanopoulos that an ethical leader is “someone who realizes that lasting values have to be at the center of their leadership.” Such a leader, Comey said, must “focus on things like fairness and integrity and, most of all, the truth.” Comey claimed that President Trump, whom he compared to a “mob boss” for demanding absolute loyalty, does not meet that test. "Our president must embody respect and adhere to the values that are at the core of this country,” Comey said. “The most important being truth. This president is not able to do that.” Comey’s verdict was that Mr. Trump is “morally unfit to be president."  

James Comey fails miserably in meeting his own standard of truthfulness. He lied to Congress under oath, for example, regarding when he reached his conclusion that Hillary Clinton’s e-mail transgressions did not merit prosecution. He testified that he had not decided to exonerate Hillary Clinton until after she was interviewed on July 2, 2016. It turns out that he had been involved in the drafting of a letter exonerating her weeks before key witnesses, including Hillary Clinton herself, were interviewed. Comey admitted to Stephanopoulos that by May of 2016 – about 2 months before he publicly announced his recommendation not to prosecute Clinton – he knew where the investigation was headed. While claiming that he had an open mind should new facts emerge, Comey said that “after nine or ten months of investigating, it looked like on the current course and speed, this is going to end without charges.” He reached that conclusion without the benefit of a grand jury, which would have been customary in cases of such gravity. “Lot more flexibility,” he said in explaining why no grand jury was convened. Comey’s whole stewardship of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation gave him “lot more flexibility” to maneuver the outcome in Hillary’s favor. 

Comey substituted in his draft exoneration letter, and later in his public exoneration statement on July 5, 2016, the phrase “extremely careless” for the legal term “gross negligence,” which appears in a federal statute covering the handling of classified information under which Hillary Clinton could have been prosecuted. Here is how Comey tried to rationalize what he had done:

“So my first draft, which I wrote myself, said, ‘Gross negligence.’ It's a lawyer term. And the reason I used that term is I wanted to also explain that I don't mean that in the sense that a statute passed 100 years ago means it. And then my staff convinced me that that's just going to confuse all kinds of people, if you start talking about statutes and what the words mean. What's a colloquial way to explain it? And elsewhere in my statement I had said, ‘Extremely careless.’ And so they said, ‘Just use that.’ And so that's what I went with.”

Even though Comey admits having found sufficient facts on which to base a case of “gross negligence,” he decided to muddy the record by substituting a colloquial expression that means pretty much the same thing but avoids using the actual statutory language. Then he claimed, contrary to the operative statute, that only a finding of “intent” would merit prosecution. Comey himself could be found guilty of obstructing justice by playing legislator and judge rather than the FBI director responsible only for investigating and reporting the relevant facts to the Department of Justice.

Regarding Comey’s own corrupted view of obstruction of justice, Comey repeated during his interview with Stephanopoulos his description of a private one-on-one discussion he had with President Trump that he claimed gave rise to his concerns about possible obstruction of justice. The president had directed other participants in a prior meeting, including Vice President Pence and Attorney General Sessions, to leave the room so that Comey and the president would be alone for a subsequent talk. Comey said this was so unusual that his “antennae were up.” According to Comey’s account, President Trump said he hoped Comey would “let it go” with regard to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn who was under criminal investigation at the time. Comey said he “took it as a direction” to drop the criminal investigation. That was only in Comey’s mind, however. Nothing the president actually said, as reported by Comey himself, amounted to a direction. Moreover, Comey did not say that President Trump followed up in any way to make sure that the “direction” Comey imagined was carried out.

Nevertheless, Comey claimed in the Stephanopoulos interview that the president’s request, made during the one-on-one discussion, was “certainly some evidence of obstruction of justice.” Yet, during the same interview, Comey shamelessly whitewashed the whitewashing of Hillary’s private server and other destruction of potential evidence. He said that his team “could never establish, develop the evidence… that anybody who did that did it with a corrupt intent. And most importantly, any indication that Secretary Clinton knew that was happening and knew that it was an effort to obstruct justice.”

In Comey’s mind, a request for leniency by the president of the United States, who has full pardon power under the Constitution, could rise to the level of obstruction of justice even though there was no follow-through by the president and the investigation of Flynn proceeded without interruption. Comey’s hatred of President Trump led him to the conclusion that a simple request for prosecutorial discretion, not a command, which was well within the president’s constitutional authority as the nation’s chief executive officer, could rise to the level of obstruction of justice. However, the destruction of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails under congressional subpoena, and the wiping clean of the server on which they reportedly resided, lack any indicia of “corrupt intent,” according to Comey. Did it ever occur to Comey that the very act of destruction of such evidence without any credible justification indicates consciousness of guilt, which merited a grand jury investigation? Obviously not, since he let Hillary off the hook. 

Comey descended into the gutter during his interview with Stephanopoulos when he said, “I don't know whether the-- the-- current president of the United States was with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow in 2013. It's possible, but I don't know.” Comey was describing his disclosure to then President-elect Trump unsubstantiated accusations that had appeared in the infamous Steele dossier, including the alleged prostitute episode. The fact that Comey would even consider the possibility that such tabloid disinformation, based on Russian sources, could be true is bad enough. What’s worse is Comey’s utter unethical behavior in not telling Mr. Trump that the Steele dossier had been financed by his political opponents. Comey told Stephanopoulos that he did not feel it necessary to reveal that fact because “it wasn't necessary for my goal, which was to alert him that we had this information.” We shouldn’t be surprised, considering that Comey’s FBI had left out from its FISA court application seeking a warrant to spy on Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser, that the Steele dossier used to support the application had been financed by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Comey himself signed the misleading application.

James Comey abused his position as FBI director and turned his office into a shield for Hillary Clinton and a sword against President Trump, Comey's protestations of virtue notwithstanding. He deserved to be fired and now deserves to be criminally investigated for lying under oath and illegally leaking government-owned information for personal purposes.

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