Friday, April 20, 2018

James Comey Is No Hero!

I think it's time I got a few things off my chest regarding former FBI Director James Comey. Was he inappropriately fired by Donald Trump? Yes. Was Trump guilty of obstruction of justice for firing him in order to stop the Russia investigation into his campaign and administration? Is the Pope Catholic?

But even allowing for all that it seems to me that an awful lot of people on the Left are rushing to Comey's defense and calling him a man of great integrity and morals. Some of them have even flirted with words like hero to describe him. Pardon me while I throw up in my mouth.

You've got to be kidding me, people. Whatever else you may think of Trump - and believe me, I've thought of it all - James Comey is NO hero. What he is is a self-aggrandizing man who, in all likelihood, was responsible for throwing the 2016 presidential election to the man who eventually fired him. That IS the very definition of poetic justice.

Ask the Clintons what they think of Comey's book and sideshow tour. Ask the scores of FBI agents who are watching their former boss parade himself on CNN like Taylor Swift. Watch the Jake Tapper interview if you dare. I was somewhere between less than impressed to downright aggravated. I came away thinking if Comey ever decides to run for office he'd make a wonderful politician regardless of which party he joins. He can spin with the best of them, and he certainly has done a number on the media.

Let's dispense with the bull and get down to the heart of the matter. I really don't care that Comey made fun of Trump's hands or facial tone. Who hasn't? Nor is it all that revelatory that the book confirmed what every political pundit and human being with half a brain already knew: that Trump is morally and ethically unfit for office. To quote the late, great comedian Richard Pryor: "Well tell us something we don't know, mother fucker." What irks me most about the book concerns his conduct in 2016.

In the summer of that year, Comey delivered his famous "no reasonable prosecutor" speech regarding Hillary Clinton's email server. Straight up, there was no way Comey should've said a word about that investigation - and it was an investigation. The FBI doesn't conduct matters. What Comey should've done is present his report to the Justice Department. With Loretta Lynch compromised due to her ill-conceived meeting with Bill - beyond stupid - the report would've been given to then Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. It was Yates's job, not Comey's, to announce the findings. What Comey did was a breach of etiquette. And that's putting it mildly.

Remember the indictments of the 13 Russian nationals back in February? Notice who was standing at the podium making the announcement? It wasn't Robert Mueller, the Special Prosecutor. It was Rod Rosenstein, the current Deputy Director of the Justice Department. That's because it's the Justice Department that actually issues indictments, not investigators or FBI Directors. The DOJ acts on the information that is given to it, but it never cedes its authority. Why else do you think Trump is so angry at Jeff Sessions for recusing himself in the Russia investigation? Because even that pee brain of his gets it that the Justice Department is where the power is. Control it and you pretty much can do whatever the hell you want.

But as bad as that brain fart was, it was not the most egregious thing Comey did. No, he saved that precious gem for his October surprise. Eleven days before the country went to the polls to vote, Clark Kent decided to let the world know that the FBI had uncovered some emails off of Anthony Weiner's laptop that had links to Hillary. Of course, no one knew whether those emails were simply copies of earlier emails that had already been investigated, but the cat had been let out of the bag. Once more the email server was front and center. Clinton's poll numbers, which were already beginning to show some slippage, sank like a rock. The RCP average showed her dropping from a high of 7.1 points on October 18th all the way down to 2.9 points just before the election. In the toss-up states, the race was a statistical dead heat. Nobody goes that far south so quickly, not without some help.

Comey's "explanation" for why he did what he did might very well go down as the most lame rationale ever put forth by a law enforcement official. This is what he wrote in his book:
"It is entirely possible that, because I was making decisions in an environment where Hillary Clinton was sure to be the next president, my concern about making her an illegitimate president by concealing the restarted investigation bore greater weight than it would have if the election appeared closer or if Donald Trump were ahead in all polls, but I don't know."
Okay, two things: First, it was not Comey's job to take into consideration whether a particular candidate was up in the polls or to worry about what might happen to that candidate if they were to be elected. He was the FBI Director, not her campaign manager; as such he should've been apolitical.

Secondly, Comey violated DOJ protocols and norms by announcing that the FBI was reopening its case into Clinton's email server so close to an election. You just don't do that, especially if, as he stated in his letter to Congress, the case was "unrelated" and he wasn't sure whether the material uncovered on Weiner's laptop would be "significant." It's kind of like a company that is considering whether to hire someone suddenly finding out that a person matching the description of their applicant was arrested. Even if they find out later that it was a different person, there's no way to tell what impact that might've had on their decision.

It's true that millions of Americans had already made up their minds about Clinton prior to October 28th; but there were still quite a few who hadn't and were on the fence. Comey's irresponsible actions, for all intents and purposes, gave them a reason to jump off that fence and vote for Trump. Perhaps most of them didn't, but from what the polls revealed, some did. And that might very well have been the whole ballgame.

I have been reluctant in the past to assign blame to Comey for Clinton's election loss in 2016. Most of that was based on the fact that she did run one of the worst political campaigns in modern history. And we still don't fully know to what extent Putin's interference may have played a role. I continue to maintain she was a flawed and, at times, arrogant candidate who had her fair share of missteps, not the least of which was her decision not to visit Wisconsin once.

But that aside, Comey's reckless behavior and his failure to take any personal responsibility for what occurred as a result of that behavior is beyond the pale. He not only owes Clinton an apology, but the entire nation one as well.

To repeat, James Comey is no hero. And when history is done with him, I suspect what's left of his tarnished reputation will be consigned to its ash heap.

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