Democrats and Republicans will never agree on the validity of the outcome of the Hillary Clinton investigation. While Clinton backers believe the former secretary of state committed no crime by transmitting classified information through her personal email account, critics counter that former FBI director James Comey’s conclusion that Clinton acted “extremely careless” euphemistically described gross negligence subjecting her to criminal liability.
Likewise, the country seems perpetually divided over the question of Russian collusion. Even Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s finding that there was no conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia failed to shake Democrats and Never Trump Republicans from their belief. Instead, Mueller’s report fueled a second fracture in American sentiments over whether Trump obstructed justice. Attorney General William Barr’s conclusion that a criminal case was not supportable did nothing to lessen the divide.
While Americans remain split over whether Clinton or Trump committed crimes, there should be a consensus on Comey’s handling of both matters. All Americans should see the former FBI director for what he was: a self-righteous, self-important, above-the-law and above-the-chain of command, morally weak egotist. He should be a public pariah.
Yet since the release of the special counsel’s report, Comey has succeeded in relaunching the resistance tour he began shortly after President Trump fired him as FBI director just more than two years ago. First Comey took to The New York Times to pontificate on the president’s prowess for eating men’s souls. Then on Thursday, CNN gifted Comey a townhall-style platform, where he further condemned the president.
Comey’s appeal to the plurality of Americans still seized with Trump derangement syndrome is understandable—the former FBI director’s anti-Trump schtick is irresistible Kool-Aid to the president’s enemies. But Comey’s behavior should not be celebrated. It should be an anathema to anyone believing in the rule of law and the peaceful transfer of power in our democratic republic.
Following Trump’s election, Comey briefed the president-elect on the details of the Christopher Steele dossier, knowing full well they were salacious and discredited and that the mainstream media was looking for a hook to repeat the slurs. It worked, and Comey’s briefing made the dossier mainstream.
Then, after Trump was sworn in, Comey agreed to stay on as FBI director, yet spent his time cataloguing nearly every encounter he had with the president. The condescending and unnecessary details Comey included in the entries showed his utter contempt for the president. Comey’s memos also claimed concern over various statements and requests the president made.
Yet Comey did nothing other than document his supposed concerns and complain to colleagues: He didn’t challenge the president, pass his concerns up the chain of command, or quit. Instead, Comey carried on until Trump fired him.
Following his firing, Comey leaked several of his memos to a friend in order to push the obstruction narrative to the media and prompt the appointment of a special counsel. Because this petty little man demanded vindication, the country suffered a $30 million investigation and two years of civil discord. (Comey also wrote a tell-all book which, if the man had an ounce of self-reflection, would have caused him such embarrassment, he would have retreated into a hermitage.)
Comey couldn’t even leave the matter in the hands of the special counsel. Following Mueller’s report, Comey continues to sow the seeds of the Russia conspiracy hoax, claiming he still doesn’t know whether Russia has leverage over Trump. Following Attorney General Barr’s conclusion that there is no obstruction of justice case either, Comey still refuses to accept the outcome.
Those desperate to see Trump’s downfall celebrate Comey and his tactics, but forget that not long ago Comey treated Hillary Clinton the same way, potentially costing her the presidential election. As FBI director, Comey bowed to the demands of his boss, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, to call the investigation of Clinton a “matter,” while mentally condemning Lynch’s request.
While Comey has no memos documenting his interactions with Lynch to leak to the press, he would later retell the episode both to Congress and the media, to justify his decision to bypass his boss and hold the July 5, 2016, press conference at which he announced the results of the investigation into Clinton.
Comey’s champions also forget that at that press conference he took it upon himself to criticize Clinton’s handling of classified information. Then, on October 28, 2016, Comey announced the re-opening of the investigation. The Department of Justice’s inspector general chastised Comey for both decisions, stating “it was extraordinary and insubordinate for Comey to conceal his intentions from his superiors, the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, for the admitted purpose of preventing them from telling him not to make the statement, and to instruct his subordinates in the FBI to do the same.”
The IG also found that Comey “chose to deviate from the FBI’s and the Department’s established procedures and norms and instead engaged in his own subjective, ad hoc decision making.” Additionally, according to the IG, Comey “usurped the authority of the Attorney General and upset the well-established separation between investigative and prosecutorial functions and the accountability principles that guide law enforcement decisions in the United States.”
That Comey turned his disdain to Trump changes nothing. Comey is playing his audience and America. He is no hero. He was a weak, smug, self-important fraud when he dragged the country through his mishandling of the Clinton investigation. And he was a weak, smug, self-important fraud when he dragged the country through two years of a special counsel investigation to seek vengeance on the president who dared to fire him.
Comey doesn’t deserve anyone’s accolades. He deserves universal ostracization.