by Del. Mark Levine
So to sum up Comey’s testimony: he broke decades of law, ethics, and policy; he irrevocably tarred the FBI as a partisan organization that no American can ever trust again under his leadership; he showed he cares more about how he looked than about American democracy; he threw an election; he disregarded the advice of his bosses; and he grandstanded on a picayune matter while concealing possible treason by the President of the United States.
Why did he do it? He makes clear the reasons in his testimony. He did it because he feared right-wing criticism.
He said he made the decision to attack Hillary Clinton like a pundit–rather than like a professional law enforcement officer– because he feared some conservatives would criticize his investigation. He admits that his comments about her were a violation of long-standing law and policy as well as a break in the chain of command.
He was so thin-skinned that he broke long-standing vital ethics rules prohibiting any discussion of an ongoing investigation or an investigation that’s closed without criminal indictment. And he did so through insubordination. He did not even tell his bosses at the Justice Department what he was doing.
Then he compounded his extraordinary misjudgment by promising to tell Congress if he reopened the investigation. He should never have made such a promise. The correct promise was to inform Congress if he discovered any new incriminating evidence.
Then the coup de grace, the worst thing he did: with ZERO evidence implicating Hillary Clinton, when he received mere duplicates of what he had already looked at before, he decided it was perfectly fine to throw an election and make Donald Trump president lest he be criticized in the 0.1% chance that he might later find incriminating information.
This is the heart of his decision to tell the American public that Hillary Clinton was guilty until proven innocent.
This was the heart of Jim Comey’s personal attack on the Bill of Rights.
This was the heart of his shredding of our Constitution.
There was NOTHING THERE.
All he had to do was get a warrant and order his people to go through those emails as fast as possible, with the intention if he discovered something incriminating to go public the second he did. But with the further intention to stay silent if he discovered nothing.
He had to know the chances were at least 99% that he would find nothing incriminating. Did he really think he was going to find an email that Hillary Clinton had somehow given Huma saying she intended to disclose classified information to a foreign power? Really? Did he also expect Hillary to be running a child sex ring in a basement in a DC pizza parlor???
If he had the smallest sense of logic, he should’ve expected to find nothing. And then worked as fast as possible. And then when he found nothing, he was under no obligation to inform Congress of his finding nothing. What is the point of informing Congress that you have found nothing? If you have nothing to say, you have nothing to say. Period. Did he really fear Rush Limbaugh screaming that Comey should’ve told Congress 11 days before an election that he might find something after he found nothing?
Really? The right wing would have thrown a hissy fit over the FBI Director checking out a dubious lead to see if it had validity before tarring an innocent person 11 days before an election?
And even if the right wing would’ve thrown that hissy fit, Comey’s fear of this niggling criticism was somehow worth him chucking all of the Bill of Rights, including “innocent until proven guilty” out the window as he handed an election on a silver platter to a man he was concurrently investigating for being, at minimum, a Russian stooge and, at worst, a Russian spy?
Since it was Comey’s clear intention to play politics rather than follow the law, shouldn’t he have at least considered the other half of America’s binary choice? After all, the other presidential candidate was openly and publicly calling upon the Russians to use espionage to throw the election in his favor. While the clear intent of Hillary Clinton was not to help our enemies commit espionage and thereby rig an election, the clear intent of Donald Trump was precisely that! He said so!
And yet the FBI director, in the process of investigating whether Donald Trump was in collusion with our greatest enemy to commit treason, did not think that investigation was important enough to inform the American people. Trump was telling America to lock Hillary up. Shouldn’t Comey have told America that while he had no evidence to suggest Hillary had committed a crime, there was serious criminal evidence against at least half a dozen Trump goons and possibly Trump himself? I know he’s a Republican. Maybe he should have given the Republicans a chance to nominate someone else?
Comey must’ve thought: Why should the American people, before an election, have any right to know he was investigating whether their president is actually a Russian puppet and an American traitor? Comey felt it was far more important to say that he found a few duplicate emails of Hillary’s than to alert Americans to the greatest threat of treachery by a presidential candidate we have ever faced since Aaron Burr.
It’s times like these I wish I could ask Comey questions myself from a Senate Committee. The Democrats were too kind to him.
Comey broke the law because he feared baseless right-wing criticism. Therefore our rightful criticism of him must be based on the law and it must be searing. Maybe just maybe if we condemn his attack on our democracy widely and strongly and vociferously, he can be induced to actually obey the law this time.
Maybe he can be persuaded to do his job as a “just the facts, ma’am” law enforcement officer rather than moralize as a finger-pointing political hack. When asked what his personal feelings were about Hillary’s non-criminal acts, he had only one answer to give: “it is not my job — and in fact it is contrary to my job — to express my personal opinion about these matters.”
Since baseless criticism got Comey to break the law, I believe thoughtful criticism can pressure Comey to obey the law this time.
Yes I hate that the FBI director is so political and so blasé about the law. But he is what he is.
And so we must do what we must do: we must condemn him in the strongest possible terms.
Because, if we don’t, he will trample on our democracy yet again.
And we are in enough mortal danger as it is.