James Comey is central to all of them.
Presidential elections come and go. Some cause great wounds that take years, sometimes decades, to heal. Last year’s election caused some deep injuries and revealed still more that we hadn’t been aware of until the furious fighting was even underway.
Don’t get me wrong: 2016 wasn’t 1860. But we have to realize that we went into 2016 more divided, more balkanized than we had been in generations. In eight years, Barack Obama had not only divided the nation, he had seeded every part of the government with loyalists. From the judiciary to the Pentagon and the intelligence community, people dedicated to Obama’s radical left agenda were put in place.
What’s more, the entrenched bureaucracy — it’s called the “deep state” in current lingo — had its natural cravings for power unleashed, its denizens herded — faster and faster — to achieve his agenda.
Three wounds, created or revealed in 2016, have become infected, and the infections are not yet cured. First is the so-called “Russia dossier,” which became the basis for the Robert Mueller investigation that is running away in the manner that Lawrence Walsh’s “Iran Contra” investigation did. The second is the “Uranium One” scandal, which the media still try to bury. And the third is the fact that Hillary Clinton and her closest staff, such as Huma Abedin, committed felonies in handling classified information. The then-FBI Director James Comey saw the proofs of their actions and nevertheless decided to protect them from punishment.
There is every reason not to write about these scandals, especially considering the enormous amount that has already been written. So why try now?
Simply because the three all flow together in a symphony of corruption, misgovernment, and media misbehavior that cannot be ignored.
Let’s start with the “Russia dossier,” created for a company called Fusion GPS by one Christopher Steele, reputedly a former British spy.
Let’s set aside the fact that Mr. Steele, or whatever his real name is, is probably as much a “former British spy” as Valerie Plame was a CIA spy. The more important facts are that a Republican opponent of Donald Trump’s candidacy hired Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Mr. Trump sometime in 2015.
We still don’t know who that Trump opponent was. At some time in 2016, he/they stopped the funding of Fusion GPS’s efforts. Hillary Clinton’s campaign stepped in and reportedly paid — through the Perkins Coie law firm — several million dollars to continue Fusion GPS’s work.
The final product implied collusion between the Russian government and both Trump and Trump’s campaign. It also made allegations of dirt on Trump such as him cavorting with Russian prostitutes in a Moscow hotel. Trump and his campaign team have always vigorously denied any such cavorting, collaboration, or collusion with Russia.
The dossier also claimed that the Russian government tried to interfere in our election, which is no surprise to anyone. The only surprise was the innovative ways the Russians undertook to do it through social media.
During the campaign, Hillary Clinton made much of the fact that someone, perhaps the Russians, intercepted emails or invaded email servers to expose embarrassing (to her) information. Clinton and her campaign insisted that Putin had a vendetta against her for her criticism of him, which was the reason the Russians interfered in the election to benefit Trump.
The dossier was leaked and became a huge issue in the campaign, beginning in about September 2016.
Though Putin may have disliked Clinton, because — as we shall see in a moment — she was bought and paid for, he would have vastly preferred her to Trump who, at best, was an unknown quantity. Putin — personally and through his placeholder Dmitri Medvedev — had taken her measure and knew enough about her and her politics to understand that he could rely on her to continue Obama’s failures to contain or end Russian aggression in places such as Ukraine and Syria. To believe Putin preferred Trump to her was, and is, preposterous.
In January 2017, Sen. John McCain admitted that it was he who passed the dossier on to FBI Director Comey in 2016. Not to the FBI: to Comey directly.
On January 6, 2017, according to Comey’s congressional testimony last June, he and other leaders of the intelligence community briefed Trump on the dossier and informed him of its imminent release (even though, as Kim Strassel reported in the Wall Street Journal, Steele had briefed U.S. reporters on it in September 2016). Comey also testified that, after that meeting, Trump asked him to stop the ongoing investigation of then-national security advisor Gen. Michael Flynn.
When Comey declined to do so, Trump fired him. Months prior to the firing, Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself from any investigation of the campaign, in which he had played a significant role. Comey published a memo about the conversation with Trump which he said was intended to cause Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint a special counsel to investigate collusion between Russia and Trump’s campaign. Rosenstein appointed Comey’s close friend Robert Mueller as special counsel.
Mueller has, so far, obtained indictments of Paul Manafort, once Trump’s campaign manager, and Rick Gates (a Manafort associate) for crimes unrelated to any collusion with Russia. He has also obtained a guilty plea from George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign advisor, for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia.
Leaks, probably from the Mueller investigation, say that he is soon to indict Flynn and possibly Flynn’s son on a variety of charges.
Trump, after meeting briefly with Putin in Vietnam, last week insisted that he believed Putin’s denials of any interference in our election. He also called Obama’s leadership of the intelligence community “political hacks.” Last year, they — former CIA director John Brennan and former director of national intelligence James Clapper — had declared that Russia had interfered in the election and condemned the leak of the Russia dossier.
In February, the Washington Post reported that the FBI had planned — weeks before the election — to pay Fusion GPS to continue its research into Trump, but that deal had fallen through.
Another aspect of the Russian dossier is the allegation that Fusion GPS had bribed reporters to write and broadcast news about the dossier. There is no evidence to suggest that the FBI is investigating that allegation, which has been raised by congressional investigators. Fusion GPS has, so far, concealed from Congress the bank records that might show payments to reporters.
Another festering wound is the FBI’s — Comey’s — handling of the Uranium One deal.
In 2010, the Obama administration approved the sale of about 20 percent of U.S. uranium assets to a Russian entity, Uranium One. According to an October report in the Hill, before the deal was approved the FBI had uncovered a substantial amount of evidence that Russians “were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States.”
The approval was made by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, “CFIUS,” of which both the Justice Department and the State Department were members. Hillary Clinton denied any role in the approval.
But the Clinton Foundation had received at least $2 million in donations from Russian interests around the time that the Uranium One deal was being made. Bill Clinton reportedly was paid $500,000 for a speech in Russia during that period.
The FBI — Comey again — had to be involved in the CFIUS approval of the Uranium One deal. The FBI or the Justice Department could have, and obviously should have, stopped the deal before it was approved. Just as they — Comey — should have decided to prosecute Clinton for her crime of mishandling classified information dozens if not hundreds of times.
During her tenure as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton used a private email system — “Clintonmail.com” — instead of the State Department’s government system, evidently to conceal what was written from government eyes. That system wasn’t protected against email interceptions, I am informed, by even the rudimentary protections that Gmail provides.
On that email system, she and her staff routinely exchanged top-secret information. That information included information on special access programs — the top-secret covert operations based on special “presidential determinations” that involve espionage operations. It also included “SI/TK” materials — special intelligence/Talent Keyhole information — which is gathered by satellites the mere existence of which is classified.
Sometime in 2016, then-attorney general Loretta Lynch instructed Comey to refer to the Clinton investigation as a “matter” rather than an investigation. Lynch then met privately with Bill Clinton in the infamous runway encounter in which we are told was an innocent meeting having nothing to do with the investigation.
A few days later, in early July 2016, Comey held a press conference to declare that while Clinton and her staff had handled classified information with “extreme carelessness” there was no prosecutable case against any of them because, he said, there was no intent to damage the United States. But the relevant statute has nothing in it about intent.
We now know that Comey had drafted a memorandum making that determination long before Clinton and her closest staff had even been interviewed.
Comey had originally drafted the memo to say that Clinton and her staff had exchanged classified information in a “grossly negligent” manner. Title 18 US Code Section 793(f) uses the term to describe the crime, a felony that can be punished by a prison term of ten years for each violation, of mishandling classified information. It doesn’t require intent to damage the United States in the elements of the crime. Comey obviously changed the term he used to avoid the precise term used in the criminal statute.
To those of us who have had security clearances enabling access to top-secret information, Clinton’s — and her staff’s — crimes are obvious and unforgivable. But none of these perpetrators have been investigated seriously for them. It’s beyond galling.
Comey’s repeated actions have destroyed the credibility of the FBI. If we can’t trust the FBI, what can we trust?
I knew Attorney General Sessions when he was a senator. We spoke occasionally, even after I left my post at Human Events. I haven’t spoken to him since he became involved in the Trump campaign. He has said that he has no reason to investigate Clinton and company further.
But why? Why isn’t Comey being investigated for his role in the Uranium One deal? Why isn’t Clinton being investigated and prosecuted for her email trafficking in top-secret information and how the Clinton Foundation received what appear to be bribes in the Uranium One deal?
We don’t, like a banana republic, prosecute people for political actions. But this is vastly different. There would be no prosecution of Clinton for any political act in any of these possible prosecutions.
Comey probably isn’t guilty of obstruction of justice. The obstruction statute requires someone to, either by corruption or threat, preventing the administration of justice. He’s not dumb enough to have taken bribes, and didn’t use threats to obtain the results he wanted. But he is guilty of using his position for political ends.
Attorney General Sessions must act. Crimes have been committed, serious crimes, that undermine our laws and our system of government. It all comes back to James Comey. He could, at least, be a witness for the prosecution.
Wikimedia Commons (screenshot)