James Comey is not a hero

It’s been bizarre to see #TheResistance figures eagerly queuing up to buy James Comey’s new book — written by the man more responsible than any other non-candidate for the election of Donald Trump.

Comey may be a demonstration of how Trump obstructed justice, and his testimony deserves close consideration. But he is no martyr for democracy, and neither is he a moral exemplar in general. At bottom, he’s just another grifter out to cash in on his carefully-crafted reputation.

Let us recall Comey’s last-minute intervention in the 2016 election, when he loudly announced the reopening of the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails on Oct. 28, then quietly closed it again after a few days. So far as anyone can tell, it directly caused a sharp decline in her poll numbers, and quite possibly may have tipped the election outcome on its own. (Of course, only Clinton’s extraordinarily unpopularity allowed the election to be close enough to tip in the first place.)

This was in direct violation of FBI rules on public statements about ongoing investigations. For very obvious reasons (which Comey unquestionably understood), national law enforcement must tread with extreme caution when it comes to investigations of political candidates. Claims that a candidate is corrupt is towards the top of the list of how authoritarian governments undermine fair elections.

Let us also recall what Comey did not say: that the Trump campaign was also under FBI investigation at that same moment — and for possibly colluding with a hostile foreign power, something that is considerably worse than violating government rules about proper email management. He left a New York Times story relating false claims of anonymous FBI sources that the agency saw no connection between Russia and Trump stand without correction.

In short: During the 2016 election, James Comey in his capacity as FBI director behaved as a committed and highly effective partisan of Donald Trump.

But that’s not all. Let’s consider his previous most famous career moment, when he helped prevent an end-run around proper legal procedures in March 2004. At that moment, Attorney General John Ashcroft was severely ill in the hospital and Comey (then Ashcroft’s deputy) was temporarily serving in his place. Head of the Office of Legal Counsel Jack Goldsmith had judged that an ongoing warrantless wiretapping program was illegal, and he, along with Comey and then-FBI Director Robert Mueller, threatened to resign unless the program was stopped. In response, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and then-Chief of Staff Andrew Card went to Ashcroft’s hospital room to try to trick the delirious man into signing off on it. Comey got wind of this and went blazing across D.C. in the middle of the night to try to head them off. (Remarkably, Ashcroft told Card and Gonzales to go pound sand.)

And sure, good for them. But what the focus on this dramatic confrontation overlooks is that Comey went on to approve a warrantless wiretapping program that was still plainly illegal and a bald violation of …read more

Source:: The Week – Politics


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