Can Comey Ever Escape the Taint of the Comey Letter? No
Newsweek asks the question:
“CAN FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY ESCAPE THE CLINTON EMAIL DEBACLE?”
The answer is no. Democrats are in an uncomfortable position. We do need him to conduct this Russia-Trump probe. Trump already gave him an inappropriate ‘vote of confidence’ a few days ago. And no doubt, anyone that Trump appointed would be a lost worse.
Yet Comey and his agency have a lot to account for, a lot to explain, frankly, a lot to justify.
“When Comey finally disclosed in March that the FBI is investigating possible coordination between Trump associates and Russia during the presidential election—and has been since July—he got some pats on the back, as well as another pummeling. “Obviously, we’re happy to hear that the FBI has been investigating the ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin,” Jarad Geldner, a senior adviser for the Democratic Coalition Against Trump, says. “We’re a little confused, though, [about] why he felt it necessary to comment so publicly on a witch hunt into one candidate’s emails while the other campaign was colluding with a foreign power in an attempt to subvert our democracy. Comey still owes the American public an explanation.”
The clear difference in how he ran the Russia investigation and the email investigation needs to be explained. As is being reported in The Guardian, US intel was late to the party in figuring out Trump’s Russia ties. But among US intel, the FBI was the laggard:
“According to one account, GCHQ’s then head, Robert Hannigan, passed material in summer 2016 to the CIA chief, John Brennan. The matter was deemed so sensitive it was handled at “director level”. After an initially slow start, Brennan used GCHQ information and intelligence from other partners to launch a major inter-agency investigation.”
“In late August and September Brennan gave a series of classified briefings to the Gang of Eight, the top-ranking Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate. He told them the agency had evidence the Kremlin might be trying to help Trump to win the presidency, the New York Times reported.”
“One person familiar with the matter said Brennan did not reveal sources but made reference to the fact that America’s intelligence allies had provided information. Trump subsequently learned of GCHQ’s role, the person said.”
The person described US intelligence as being “very late to the game”. The FBI’s director, James Comey, altered his position after the election and Trump’s victory, becoming “more affirmative” and with a “higher level of concern”.
Back to Newsweek:
“The criticism that Comey’s self-righteousness clouds his judgment didn’t start with the 2016 election. In 2013, even before Barack Obama nominated Comey as FBI director, a former George W. Bush White House official described him toNewsweek as having “a flair for the dramatic and a desire to be the moral savior of mankind.” And that reputation has persisted; last September, Politico said Comey’s critics believe that he “has displayed a worrying disregard for the rules and norms,” and that “his ‘streak of self-righteousness,’ now essentially unchecked, has made him the most isolated, outspoken and openly defiant FBI director since Hoover.” In March, a source close to Comey said in Vanity Fair that his decision to speak so fully about Clinton in July was due to his “megalomania.” And a recent Harvard-Harris poll (conducted before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on March 20, during which Comey confirmed the FBI investigation into possible collusion between Russia and Trump associates) found that only 17 percent of Americans surveyed viewed him favorably.”
“Comey’s about Comey. Comey’s got this God complex where he has the most integrity in the world,” a Democratic operative says. The operative adds that he believes Comey thought Clinton was going to win the election and feared he would look bad when it came out that he knew about these new emails, or that rogue FBI agents in the New York office would leak their existence to reporters. “He was looking out for Jim Comey first, Jim Comey second and Jim Comey third, and instead of doing the right thing, he did the convenient thing.”
What could explain Comey’s unforgivable breach? Regarding the letter, there is wide belief that his hand was forced. Roger Stone-whose own finger prints are everywhere not just with the hacking but also in the Comey letter said the Director ‘had no choice:’
Comey had no choice. The NYPD had and has a copy of the 650,000 emails. Comey’s statement, days before the election, that there’s nothing in there, is a bald-faced lie. This is just supposition, but I think the FBI director looked at the content and said they’re going to hang me if I don’t do something.
I do suspect that was a big part of it. But remember, no one forced his hand in the original July presser that was itself wholly unprecedented and inappropriate.
And Comey is despite his reputation for independence a Whitewater alum who came up with Ken Starr.
And even before the email investigation we’ve seen him act politically:
“It’s worth noting that the FBI employs about 35,000 people, and most of them are working on investigations unrelated to whether Trump staffers played footsie with Moscow. It’s also worth noting that Comey has been excoriated for his pronouncements before. While speaking at the University of Chicago Law School in October 2015, he suggested that criticism of police had shackled cops and was driving up violent crime in some cities. Referring to the so-called Ferguson effect—though Comey didn’t call it that—could be seen as another sop to his right-leaning agents. “In today’s YouTube world, are officers reluctant to get out of their cars and do the work that controls violent crime?” he asked. “I don’t know whether this explains it entirely, but I do have a strong sense that some part of the explanation is a chill wind blowing through American law enforcement over the last year. ”
During the election, the FBI was Trumpland. This was particularly true of the NY FBI along with the NYPD. They opposed Hilary as she’d likely continue Obama’s DOJ policies-indeed, she’d run on being even tougher on police brutality and excessive force.
The NY FBI and NYPD were furious when Loretta Lynch moved the trial of the cop who killed Eric Garner to the DOJ. They fumed that police were being ‘railroaded.’
Comey’s own comments in 2015 show Comey shared some of these sentiments.
“Some with ties to the federal government believe Comey’s actions during both the Clinton and Trump investigations have forever tarnished him. “Comey was regarded as an accomplished and dedicated public servant,” but the Clinton letter “really marred his reputation,” a source with ties to the National Security Council under Obama tells Newsweek.”
“His obituary, if it had been written a year ago, would have been one of incredible public service,” says a source close to the FBI. “But now it will be marked—not stained, but marked—by being the centerpiece of an enormous political debacle.”
P.S. As we saw in my poll out last week, the long awaited poll results are in, and right now I’m just 11 points down vs. Peter King (GOP-NY-District 2). And the voters don’t even know who I am yet.
There is nothing more important in getting answers to Trump-Russia collusion than a Democratic House in 2019. Please donate to help me in my part of the effort to fight for a Dem House.
Thank you. We must have a Dem House. And so, we will