Could Comey's FBI look any worse?
The picture that emerges of Jim Comey from the Inspector General’s report is one of an astonishingly arrogant weirdo, an FBI director who pompously talked about “norms” while shattering them on his own say-so — from crowning himself the de facto attorney general, thereby sparing Hillary an indictment, to lesser offenses of self-indulgence, such as his richly ironic use of Gmail to conduct official business. Anyone who goes to the trouble of slogging through this mountainous report will wonder how such an unreliable and self-deluded flake could hold any position at the FBI, let alone serve as the chief witness in Mueller’s investigation of a sitting president.
Just read through the section on Comey’s weird interactions with Loretta Lynch and his untrustworthiness as a witness becomes obvious: he can’t give a clear account of a conversation to save his life. His flakiness is so blatant one wonders if the judicial system should throw out every case he ever touched. He appears in the report at times almost pitiful, claiming that he didn’t know Huma Abedin was married to Anthony Weiner. That fact somehow eluded America’s top cop, but then again Comey is “still” not sure if Hillary Clinton paid for Christopher Steele’s dossier.
In keeping with his comic superiority complex, Comey has pronounced himself generally pleased with the report, giving Horowitz a pat on the head in the New York Times for his “professionalism.” Sure, he has his disagreements with him, but, hey, we are all in this voyage of self-discovery together — that’s the ludicrous tone Comey affects. Any other law enforcement figure would hide his head in shame after the release of a report that shows his agency to be a corrupt clown show; Comey uses it to talk about his own rectitude and give a lecture about how all “our leaders need to understand that accountability and transparency are essential to the functioning of our democracy, even when it involves criticism.” He caused a partisan pile-up of historic proportions at the FBI, yet strolls up to the scene like an innocent bystander wondering what others might “learn” from the crash.
That Comey can talk so breezily about the wreckage at the FBI speaks to the depth of his sense of entitlement and the protection he enjoys from the media and official Washington. He lied, leaked, broke rules, violated confidences, treated FBI memos as his own personal property, spied on a presidential campaign, and much else, but knows that he will never pay a real price for any of it, owing to his status as a ruling-class mandarin.
Yet his political sense is not as keen as he seems to think. He is losing his tussle with Trump, and this report may finish him off in that struggle. Comey is simply too compromised a figure for Mueller to build a credible obstruction-of-justice case on; the American people are not going to throw a president out of office for firing a flake.
Mueller must have cringed as he read the report; his fruit-from-the-poisoned-tree problem has gotten much, much worse. The IG’s revelation that senior FBI official Peter Strzok planned to use the Russian investigation to “stop” Trump from winning the presidency hopelessly taints it. So does the other fresh revelation that an open “resistance” lawyer at the FBI served on the investigation for over a year. (That the Justice Department hid these damning texts from Congress adds to the atmosphere of a railroading.)
One has to laugh at the faltering, inarticulate, feeble testimony Horowitz gathered from these busted partisans in which they attempt to explain away their anti-Trump animus: they sound like little children caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Why, I never leaked mentions of the Trump-Russia investigation to the media, bleated Strzok to Horowitz, citing that as poof his feelings didn’t influence the investigation. But, of course, he did leak it — through the CIA director to whom he served as FBI liaison, John Brennan, who told Senator Harry Reid all about Strzok’s activities. Reid is on record saying that Brennan called him up and told him about the investigation in the hopes that he would leak it to the press before election day. “Why,” Reid has said,” do you think [Brennan] called me?”
Strzok and Brennan were thick as thieves. In the end, their anti-Trump bias is the only explanation for why such a scandalously sketchy counterintelligence probe of a rival presidential campaign was launched. It was the probe from nowhere to nowhere, undertaken to prove the partisan speculation of Strzok and Brennan. That’s why the Justice Department won’t identify the evidentiary origin of the investigation. There never was one; it arose out of nothing more than the capacity of Brennan and Strzok to believe the worst about Trump.
Months after the probe started, Strzok fretted to his mistress that there “was no there there.” This caused him “concern,” he told her — not because he was ruining the lives of innocent people but because it meant that he couldn’t ruin the presidency of Donald Trump. What a creep–undone, appropriately enough, by his own lusts, both carnal (which led him to use an FBI device away from the prying eyes of his wife, he admitted) and political. In the midst of all his grubby cheating, scheming, and carping about his colleagues (who didn’t appreciate his genius, he implied to his mistress), Strzok, like Comey, had an absurd savior complex. He was going to prevent the presidency of Donald Trump — “We will stop it.”
But with poetic justice, Strzok’s partisan turning away from the real Hillary probe to the fake Trump one in the final month of the campaign inadvertently destroyed his dream: crucial weeks passed as senior brass ignored her emails on Weiner’s laptop, causing so much anger and turmoil at the field level that Comey had no choice but to acknowledge publicly re-opening the investigation before any leaking from angry agents exposed him. Then, as the IG report notes (by quoting dismayed agents), he closed the investigation as dishonestly as he re-opened it, thereby underlining what a sham the investigation was from the start. The end to this farce came at the ballot box and was wonderfully fitting: the American people delivered the justice Comey wouldn’t.
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