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Friday, June 9, 2017

Former FBI Director James Comey must be held accountable for his actions.

Since the beginning of the Justice Department's investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private internet server, we've been treated to a parade of politicians, journalists, and analysts, all trying to spin the mess into a political weapon.  Occasionally we would get a glimpse of a well-groomed bureaucrat here and there, stuck in the unenviable position of trying to answer questions without sharing classified information.  Most of us were introduced to former FBI Director James Comey sometime in the summer of 2016, which speaks highly of his ability to stay out of the spotlight, considering the number of high-profile investigations in which he was involved.  In my experience, anyone with that level of authority who has been able to avoid becoming a familiar face, is doing something right.

How things have changed for Mr. Comey.

During the Hillary Clinton investigation, Comey was put under a tremendous amount of pressure by Congressional Democrats, who were acutely aware of the damage the controversy was causing her presidential campaign.  Although the left will claim otherwise, fro the most part, the GOP let the investigation evolve and expand on its own, as new revelations provided room to grow.  Many Democrats believe that Comey's decision to publicly announce new developments in the investigation during the presidential campaign eventually cost Clinton the election.  Clinton has echoed that allegation, along with her list of at least thirty-six other "reasons" that Donald Trump unfairly won the election.  At the time, Comey was vilified by Democrats on Capitol Hill, amid the usual calls for investigations you usually get when two or more Democrats are in the same room.  It was obvious to me that Comey took the accusations to heart, and this once stoic, professional bureaucrat allowed himself to become personally involved.

When Donald Trump arrived in DC, he made the decision to keep James Comey on as Director of the FBI.  The Justice Department and the Bureau had become highly politicized during the Obama Administration, and Trump thought it was important to keep some level of continuity, especially as ongoing investigations were concerned.  For anyone who might need a reminder, when I recall the last eight years of the Department of Justice, I think of the "Fast and Furious" debacle, the decision not to investigate the IRS audit targeting controversy, the choice by Congress to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt, and the "coincidental" meeting on the Phoenix Airport tarmac between Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton, whose wife at the time was the subject of an ongoing Justice Department investigation.  During the eight years of the Obama Administration, which include three years with James Comey as the Director of the FBI, the Bureau had a crisis of personnel, as highly-respected, experienced Special Agents and Supervisory Special Agents were choosing early retirement or just flat-out quitting.  Off the record, the decision to leave usually involved the politicization of the Justice Department.  Just how would this "politicization" reveal itself?  Possibly with the request for FISA authority to conduct surveillance and listen-in on phone conversations being conducted by Russian authorities.  The never-ending leaks are another example of what can happen when a sensitive government agency has been seeded with political appointees and activists.  When President Trump and his advisers realized the level of politicization in the FBI, and the probability that one investigation after another sans justification would be focused on his Administration, he used his authority to make a change in Bureau management.  No doubt President Trump was also considering the possibility that the investigation of his campaign staff and Russian contacts would continue as long as the distraction negatively impacted the Trump Agenda.  Keep in mind that no evidence has yet been discovered which implicates anyone in the Trump campaign with Russian espionage activities, but for some reason the investigation goes on and on and on.

The one surprise Comey saved just for me was his admission to leaking classified information.  Comey claims that once he realized he was getting the ax, he decided to pass notes from his private conversations with President Trump to a college professor, with instructions that she share the notes with the press.  His justification?  Comey asserts that he was concerned Trump might squash the Russia investigation, therefore the public release of the notes might force the naming of a Special Counsel.  What a load of horseshit.  Everyone with even a modicum of political common sense knows that Comey released his notes in order to "get back" at President Trump.  Who would have envisioned that the top Law Enforcement Officer in the country, the person who is tasked with locating and prosecuting persons who leak classified information, would openly admit to Congress that he had knowingly shared classified information with an acquaintance for the express purpose of delivering that information to a journalist?

During his opening remarks to the Congressional Committee, Comey claimed he was angry with President Trump, because of Trump's alleged criticism of the FBI's rank-and-file officers.  Sorry, but I have to call horseshit once again.  A review of the statement Trump released to announce Comey's termination, makes it clear that all and any criticism was reserved for Comey.  President Trump rightly expressed concern regarding the effectiveness of the FBI with Comey in charge, and in no way maligned the hard work being done by Bureau personnel.  At the end of the day, Comey's appearance before members of Congress only reiterated what the Trump Administration has been saying from the beginning.  No persons involved with the Trump Campaign colluded with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.  The mainstream media, which continues to prove that "anything goes" in the war against the Trump Administration, was unable to spin Comey's appearance into the Russian espionage narrative, so they've moved on to Plan B, which is to introduce the world to "Trump the Obstructionist".  The talking points must have been prepared quickly, because I noticed the term "obstructionist" on the websites of the NY Times and the Washington Post, and heard it on MSNBC and CNN.  The media is a formidable opponent, folks, as they answer to no one, and can print whatever allegation comes to mind, as long as it comes from an "unnamed source".  To demonstrate that respect for the rule of law is paramount in today's FBI, the Department of Justice needs to make an example of James Comey, and prosecute the former Director for providing the media with classified information.  Since he's admitted his guilt, this case should be open-and-close, which would go a long way to discouraging potential leakers in the future.      

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