Here
and
Now

opinions

Blame Comey's moral vanity for dumping U.S. in newest election mess

19 Comments

Most people didn't think it was possible, but FBI Director James Comey - as is now known by everyone who hasn't been locked down in a Zen monastery for the past four days - has just increased the craziness of this already loony and deeply depressing presidential election campaign.

He accomplished this feat with his letter to Congress announcing that FBI personnel are going to review emails that they found while investigating criminal allegations against former Representative Anthony Weiner, estranged husband of key Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin. Comey said the emails may be relevant to Clinton's own email scandal, though the FBI does not yet know their contents.

Comey acted against the practice that the Justice Department, of which the FBI is a part, should not interfere with the democratic process by publicly releasing information that might tip the outcome of the vote within 60 days of the election. But anyone who finds Comey's behavior puzzling or self-contradictory hasn't followed the career of this very careful bureaucrat.

What Comey's behavior makes clear - and has made clear to observers of differing political stripes - is that a public official can do great harm through the expression of a kind of self-important moral vanity.

Comey has proved to be the quintessential bureaucrat, always focused on protecting his own back. That seems to be Comey's prime motivation and appears to be fueling his intense drive to appear completely "transparent."

In July he held a press conference to make an extremely careful announcement that the FBI's "recommendation" in the Clinton email investigation was not to prosecute her even though, in his view, her behavior had been "extremely careless." Or, as one post put it more succinctly, "I'm going to drop bombs on Hillary's many email-scheme lies, then announce no prosecution."

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has been apoplectic ever since. But other Republicans have also expressed outrage at what they view as Comey's favoritism toward Clinton.

Now, Comey has tried to restore his public reputation for balance. Did you think he was too easy on Clinton the last time? Well, he'll show you: He'll act so that no one can have the slightest justification for claiming that he has been anything but scrupulously, meticulously evenhanded in his official behavior. Nothing but clean, folks.

The FBI is an investigative agency whose findings enable Justice Department prosecutors to make prosecutorial decisions. Even in the Clinton email scandal, from which Attorney General Loretta Lynch had to recuse herself because of her tarmac meeting with former President Bill Clinton, there were plenty of career officials at the Justice Department who were capable of making the decision about whether to prosecute.

The country did not need the matter to be effectively decided in a public press conference by Comey. Still less did the country need this second public performance from him, which performs no function other than to try to extricate him from the trouble he reaped as a result of his first public performance.

This is not Comey's first go-round in his need to publicly play a big role by inserting himself into a national debate.

In 2014, after the police shootings in Ferguson, Missouri, and other places, Comey asserted that increased scrutiny of law enforcement was emboldening criminals, even as he said there was no data to back this up.

He also delivered a speech on African Americans and the police, in which he pointed to "deep-rooted social problems" causing "tensions with law enforcement." He concluded it was "almost irresistible" for police to take a "mental shortcut" in enforcing the law. He then balanced this publicly expressed sentiment by announcing his worry, contrary to administration policy, that requiring the police to wear body cameras would lead to less effective law enforcement.

During the administration of President George W. Bush, Comey, then nominally a Republican, became a bête noir to other Republicans partly because of his role in the 2003 case of Valerie Plame, a former CIA operative whose identity had been leaked to the press by someone in the administration. Because Attorney General John Ashcroft had recused himself from the investigation of the leak, Comey, then deputy attorney general, was in charge.

Comey appointed U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, as special counsel. The identity of the leaker was discovered soon enough: It was an official in the Defense Department.

But the investigation did not stop. Comey had written a careful letter, not publicly revealed at the time, that confirmed Fitzgerald's authority was not limited to the questions of who had leaked the information and whether it was a crime. Instead, Fitzgerald's authority was to extend beyond this to cover all matters related to the investigation - like obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI. It was this expanded authority that was used to indict Scooter Libby, an aide to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Comey also clashed with the Bush White House over domestic surveillance and the dismissal of U.S. attorneys; he left government for the private sector in 2005. In 2007, in testimony to Congress about the U.S. attorney controversy, he used the opportunity to state his view that the Justice Department "had to be seen as the good guys, and not as either this administration or that administration."

This is the way institutions go off the rails; if we are lucky, we see them derailing themselves and taking steps to stop the slide.

Consider the institution of the independent counsel, established after Watergate to ensure that grubby politics would have no further influence over criminal investigations of high government officials.

Independent counsels were accountable only to judicial panels, not to Justice Department superiors. They had broad powers to determine how far their investigations would go and how long they would last.

After years of cases that ensnared officials in both parties in seemingly endless legal proceedings, some clearly unjustifiable, the legislation authorizing the office of the independent counsel was finally allowed to expire. The institution died an unlamented death.

Maybe now that the FBI director has gored the oxen of both political parties in his insistence that everyone know how virtuously careful and nonpartisan he is, we can exercise our capacity for self-correction once again. Why not return to a more traditional allocation of responsibilities - in which the prosecutors make the decisions about whether to prosecute, after the investigators have investigated and reported the results to them?

Then these prosecutors, as prosecutors have traditionally done, either put up, by getting an indictment, or shut up, without press conferences and public self-justification.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2016.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

19 Comments
Login to comment

MAY be relevant? You've got to be kidding ! DOES NOT KNOW their content ? WTH ! ! ! In spite of all the innuendo, WE WILL wake up on 11/9 having elected the MOST QUALIFIED person ever to have run for the office of POTUS ! It's HER time, guys ! "Madame President" Sure sounds good to me !

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Blame Hillary for committing crimes normal people would be jailed for, and in an extremely stupid manner, again that most people would be jailed for.

Most of the media won't even blame her for that.

She did it because she thought she could get away with it, as it's worked many times before, going back to mid-70's (someone posted a 25-item Clinton scandal list today or yesterday).

She's pretty much right, but this time a 10-percent non-compliant media and the rise of social media means she may not.

She's got Clinton friends in the Dept. of Justice AND the FBI running cover, but at some point even some of them have taken their hands off. Comey in response to Lynch's complaint about whether to release the 'bombshell' asked for an order to NOT release it, such order not coming, he released it.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

Trump will win in a landslide on Monday and then the clinton criminal can be jailed where she belongs.

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

Comey acted against the practice that the Justice Department, of which the FBI is a part, should not interfere with the democratic process by publicly releasing information that might tip the outcome of the vote within 60 days of the election.

Wrong Suzanne Garment. He had made a promise to keep Congress informed of any new developments into the Clinton investigation. He kept his promise. Everything you've written is BS. You're obviously a Clinton/MSM tool.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Blame Hillary for committing crimes normal people would be jailed for, and in an extremely stupid manner, again that most people would be jailed for.

Except that normal people wouldn't have been jailed for it. For that matter, neither would 'abnormal' people - look at how many other politicians have done the same thing and didn't face any persecution for it.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Comey never should have been in the position he was put in by his boss. The FBI reports to Justice who reports to Obama who supports HRC. There should have been an independent prosecutor chosen for the task.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Nice hit piece on Comey. Like angry chimps throwing dung, the Clinton fans are getting desperate now because they realise there's so much first on her that some of it has to stick.

The rusted-ons, including her cheer squad here on JT, won't desert her. But there are still plenty of traditional Dem supporters who could easily hold their nose and vote for Trump next week because he's by far the lesser of two evils than Clinton.

As far as Comey is concerned, he's been facing a revolt at the FBI, with huge pressure to investigate the Clinton emails from disaffected officers who recognize the moral hazard of allowing Clinton to get away scot-free. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3886942/Resignation-letters-piling-disaffected-FBI-agents-wife-urging-admit-wrong-Director-Comey-jumped-chance-reopen-Hillary-investigation.html Some speculation has been floating around that the investigation has been going slow to prevent giving the Obama the opportunity to pardon Clinton should she be charged while he's still in power.

While I can't vote next week, I'm hoping that a majority of Americans decide to take a chance of improvement with the imperfect Trump instead of flushing their country away with more of the same failed policies helmed by a crook.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Blame Hillary Clinton's corruotion and crime. Had Hillary not been so corrupt or the Democrats not appointed her, then there would not be FBI issues in the election

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Trump will win in a landslide on Monday and then the clinton criminal can be jailed where she belongs. yep thats what Trumps praying for, his multiple sexual assault and child molestation charge, then the Trump University scam. Hell be hard pressed to stay out a jail himself. Getting into the white house will save his bacon for a few years. but but Hillaries emails!!

2 ( +6 / -4 )

READING THESE POSTS, it appears most of the readers are uninformed. Hillary is a nasty woman, even the flies recognize crap when they see it. She sold out America by selling 20% of Americas Uranium to the Russians, putting America in Jeopardy by having classified information on a private server and collecting donations from Foreign interests for favoritism. Instead of bowing out of the elections she's remains in order to go down in history as the first U.S. Female President. I doubt she'll last more than a year before collapsing in the Oval Office. Trump is the only True hope for America! The only way Hillary can win is by crooked Polls. She can barely fill a small auditorium at her rallies, whereas Trump is packing people in by the thousands at stadiums!!

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

There should have been an independent prosecutor chosen for the task.

For over a year, Republicans have called for the appointment of a special prosecutor — similar to the Bush's appointment of Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate the leaks of Valerie Plame’s identity in 2003 — and for over a year, the Obama administration has steadfastly refused to accede to those demands. We have a compromised AG (Lynch) and compromised deputy FBI director (McCabe) at the top of the investigation. The only seemingly independent person with any real remaining authority over the case is Comey.

I read a blog post by Scott Adams recently - very well written - on Comey. His explanation boils down to Comey tried to not interfere in the election in July by putting out a very sound case on what Hillary had done wrong, and then leaving it to the electorate to factor that in to the vote. He was in a hard situation and did the best he could to be clear without doing anything overtly meddling in the election. And then in October, clear disqualifying evidence comes to light regarding Hillary, and he makes the information known as professionally he can, but again it is left to the electorate to act on it. Each time he took a bullet to his reputation, but he acted in a way that put the interests of the country as a whole first.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

1/20/17 - "Madame President" ! Get used to it, guys !

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Except that normal people wouldn't have been jailed for it. For that matter, neither would 'abnormal' people - look at how many other politicians have done the same thing and didn't face any persecution for it.

Ah, the beauty of selective memory. Remember these Comey remarks?

"To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now."

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I agree with all those above (and future comments against Clinton below) that do not want another Clinton as president. America no longer has journalism. It's sensationalism and "entertainment." The media in America is so left wing it's unbelievable. No objectivity at all. I'm against Clinton, for many reasons. Too many to begin to list here.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Is this a Hillary campaign article?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Except that normal people wouldn't have been jailed for it. For that matter, neither would 'abnormal' people - look at how many other politicians have done the same thing and didn't face any persecution for it.

Ah, the beauty of selective memory. Remember these Comey remarks?

"To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now."

"Security or administrative sanctions" is not jail

When ya get "security or administrative" sanctioned, it's your work office that's handing out the punishment

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

"Security or administrative sanctions" is not jail

And Comey's comment's didn't even say they would be sanctioned. Only that the finding with Hillary doesn't mean that other's wouldn't.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Hillary Clinton should overcome this crisis and move on. There will be a long legal struggle ahead. Meanwhile, Trump and his third wife are facing a new sexual offense lawsuit. A woman has sued Trump for rape when she was thirteen years old. The accuser, however, failed to appear at the news conference with her lawyer because of "terrible intimidations.". The mainstream media have not touch this latest bombshell. Trump and his wife, of course, threatened to sue the accuser after the election's over. (AOL.News, 2 Nov 2016). Welcome to the finish line.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

"Security or administrative sanctions" is not jail

And Comey's comment's didn't even say they would be sanctioned. Only that the finding with Hillary doesn't mean that other's wouldn't.

I just thought he meant that even if there's no legal punishment doesn't mean people in the same situation won't face work punishment.

Also

And then in October, clear disqualifying evidence comes to light regarding Hillary, and he makes the information known as professionally he can

There is no "clear disqualifying evidence" (yet or if)

FBI has admitted that all they've been doing so far is sorting out the emails - which ones are relevant to Hillary and which ones are not relevant to Hillary (since it's Weiner's device, it stands to reason most of these will be related to Weiner and not Hillary), and of those which ones are duplicates from prior investigations. Nobody has really scrutinized the emails yet - all they've been doing so far is categorizing.

Comey simply informed Congress that he's going to do an investigation - he himself said he doesn't know what's in those emails, much less any "clear disqualifying evidence"

So nobody pretend they know anything what's in those emails, since Comey himself doesn't know (unless one wanna pretend to know more than Comey)

Let's just wait for the investigation and see what comes out.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites