James Comey loves to preach to us lesser mortals about ethics and such. Like Jimmy Carter before him, James Comey has let the J.C. initials get to his head and thinks he can walk on water. Now that he is trying to plug a book at the same time, he is in danger of electrocution.
Comey’s contribution to Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, for now, is this classic: “No reasonable prosecutor would bring such charges.” The idea that Comey has a clue of what defines reasonableness is itself impugned each time he opens his mouth. His new book, A Higher Loyalty, is subtitled “Truth, Lies and Leadership.” In it he offers a bit of the first, a lot of the second, and none of the third.
The usual suspects have come out in favor of Comey, hoping in some way to shine more darkness into Donald Trump’s life, and the other set of usual suspects have come out in opposition. This partisan divide gives a momentary false impression. One viewing from the outside, with no horse in the race or ox being gored, may be pardoned for thinking Comey has committed liberal virtue and conservative vice, that on the left he is in the right. In fact, he is guilty by whatever standard one cares to apply. And he is hoist on his own petard, condemned by his own confession.
Here is my point. Comey says in his magnum opus that the reason he allowed himself to send a letter to Congress in October 2016 to announce the reopening of the Clinton email investigation was that he thought she was safely ahead and this development would not prove disruptive. The critics of this statement on the Republican side have bemoaned his politicization of the investigative process. FBI Directors are not supposed to base law enforcement decisions on the conditions of electoral polls.
These critics are right, of course, but they are missing the forest for the trees. Much more is at stake here than cops looking over their shoulder to stay in step with political trends. This is a confession of actual crime.
Let us recall the events that precipitated the Comey letter to Congress. Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former Congressman from New York, had just been arrested for improper sexual advances to a minor over the Internet. Pursuant to that event, police had confiscated all of Mister Weiner’s computers. Upon examining their contents, police discovered that Weiner was receiving on a regular basis copies of emails his wife Huma Abedin, personal assistant to Hillary Clinton, was sending to and receiving from her boss. As Comey himself repeated as recently as last week’s ABC interview, there were “hundreds of thousands” of such emails, which obviously had to be vetted for classified material.
The letter to Congress said it was necessary to reopen the investigation because those newly discovered emails potentially contained incriminating information. Now he is telling us he sent the letter because Hillary was safely in the lead. How can that possibly be a true statement unless one of three things is also true? 1) He knew before checking that nothing incriminating would be found. 2) He knew that he was not really planning to look too closely. 3) He knew that even if he found something it would be covered up.
If none of those things are true, then he had to consider that he might have to recommend charges against Hillary. And if that was a possible outcome, how could it make to sense to think he could write the letter because she was going to win anyway?
The sad truth is that Comey is not so much a bad guy as he is a little bit off mentally. That is an uncomfortable comment to make about a man who directed the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but it really is accurate. If you listen to this guy answer questions over a period of an hour or so, as we all did several times through the Hillary Clinton “matter,” you will hear a few dead giveaways. I used to shrug and dismiss him as an “odd bird” until I heard him tell Congress “there is no question Vladimir Putin took a personal dislike to Hillary Clinton.” Then I switched to calling him a blooming idiot.
Anyone who actually believes Vladimir Putin wanted Donald Trump to triumph over Hillary Clinton is not mature enough intellectually to offer substantive commentary on global affairs. If Putin did anything during the campaign to boost Trump’s vote totals, it was designed to give Hillary a lesser victory so America would be weakened. He certainly did not want to deal with an unpredictable wild card like Donald Trump. When Comey displayed the unpardonable naïveté of actually thinking Putin wanted to see Hillary lose, I thought he should be shown the door. As it turned out, he lasted just a few weeks more before he stepped on the trapdoor all by himself and plunged into the purgatory he now calls home.