Friday, June 9, 2017

The Comey Show Comes and Goes

During yesterday’s Senate Intel Committee testimony James Comey intoned self-righteously that he was horrified that Russia might have interfered in that most sacrosanct democratic process: our presidential election.

One should always be wary of people who claim to own the moral high ground. Grandiose protestations of devotion to high ideals are often a confidence trick hiding partisanship. In Comey’s case the irony is rich and crushing. The one individual who did the most to manipulate the presidential election was not Vladimir Putin. It was James Comey. As for the way he dealt with Trump and the way Comey dealt with the Obama administration, he was clearly on the side of Obama.

Yet, Comey has been purveying the narrative of Russian election interference, and thus that Donald Trump is Putin’s puppet. When they do so they are diminishing the American president and elevating the status of the Russian president.  As Donald Trump pushes Putin to the side in the Middle East, Democrats are hard at work delegitimizing Trump.

Kimberly Strassel suggests that Comey is the behind-the-scenes manipulator of the Democratic Resistance—movement whereby the loyal opposition became the disloyal opposition. Whatever you think about the French Resistance it was not a loyal opposition. It was a domestic insurgency designed to bring down the French collaborationist government.

As Strassel writes:

By the end, something had become clear. Mr. Comey was not merely a player in the past year’s palaver. He was the player.

For your edification, the word “palaver” means idle chatter. For my part I cannot see how the presidential election was idle chatter, so I leave that to your imagination.

Comey threw himself into the election in July when he called a press conference in order to usurp the authority of federal prosecutors and exonerate Hillary Clinton for actions that, to his mind, no prosecutor would prosecute. He declared that Hillary’s failure to safeguard classified information was unintentional. Of course, the statute does not say that the breach needed to be intentional.

In Strassel’s words:

It was Mr. Comey who botched the investigation of Mrs. Clinton by appropriating the authority to exonerate and excoriate her publicly in an inappropriate press event, and then by reopening the probe right before the election. This gave Mrs. Clinton’s supporters a reason to claim they’d been robbed, which in turn stoked the “resistance” that has overrun U.S. politics.

Comey was not just usurping prosecutorial authority. He was rewriting the law itself. This usurpation of authority he did not possess was cited by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as a good reason to fire Comey.

In an effort to justify his actions in July Comey claimed that he did what he did in July because he believed that Loretta Lynch, then Attorney General, had been compromised by her meeting with Bill Clinton. He added that Lynch had tried to influence his investigation of Hillary’s email server, and that he had, for all intents and purposes gone along. He did not manifest any moral outrage over the Clintons’ effort to manipulate an FBI investigation. It was cheap partisanship masquerading as moral probity.

Strassel explained:

Mr. Comey explained that he had lost faith in then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s ability to handle the affair, in part because she had directed him to describe the probe in public as a “matter” rather than an “investigation.” That one of President Obama’s political appointees outright directed the head of the FBI to play down an investigation is far more scandalous than any accusation aired about Mr. Trump. Mr. Comey said it gave him a “queasy” feeling. But did he call on Ms. Lynch to recuse herself? Did he demand a special counsel? No. Mr. Comey instead complied with the request. Then he judged that the only proper way to clean up the mess was to flout all the normal FBI protocols. Vive la resistance.

Yet, how can we explain Comey's reentry into the fray in late October. By many accounts, among them Nate Silver, Comey's announcement that he was reopening the investigation helped elect Donald Trump. Of course, we have no reason to assume that he knew the effect his announcement would have. For all we know Comey wanted to ensure that his image was squeaky-clean-- his dismissal of charges against Hillary was clearly partisan-- the better to maintain the pretense of moral virtue.

The issue of Russian influence, Strassel notes, was ginned up by Comey:

It was Mr. Comey who launched an investigation into Russian meddling last July and expanded it to look for possible collusion with the Trump campaign. That may well have been warranted. Yet before the election his FBI had leaked this to the press, casting an aura of illegitimacy on a new president and feeding conspiracy theories based on, in Mr. Comey’s words, “nonsense” reporting.

Strassel argued that the resistance to Trump’s presidency, especially the attack on its legitimacy, has come to us from James Comey.

She concludes:

Yes, Russia interfered. Yes, Mr. Trump damages himself with reckless words and tweets. Yes, the Hillary situation was tricky. Yet you have to ask: How remarkably different would the world look had Mr. Comey chosen to retire in, say, 2015 to focus on his golf game? If only.


Sam L. said...

I have the impression that he's shot himself in the foot. Can't explain why, though.

Ares Olympus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: Yet, Comey has been purveying the narrative of Russian election interference, and thus that Donald Trump is Putin’s puppet.

That is a false reduction of what Comey said. There's a difference between being a puppet and being a stooge.

I think the best narrative of the Russian interference is to sow doubt. Russia expected Clinton to win, so they worked to delegitimize Clinton with fake news stories, and tried to hack the democrats emails to embarrass, although strangely they were not able to hack Clinton's private server, only the DNC.

If Russia was interested in showing America was no better than Russia, they only succeeded in helping elect a single representative of the worst traits in our president himself, while the fact we can have an independent FBI that can investigate the president shows we're NOT like Russia. And even if the president can fire the FBI director to try to stop investigations, the exact opposite happens, investigations expand.

The paranoid right who call this partisan only because they are partisan, and see what they want to see.

Trump has denied he asked for loyalty from Comey, and we all know that is a lie. We know it because we know Trump's character. He is self-confessional about everything, admits he lies, but only after there's nothing anyone can do about it. Drain the swamp? No, that was just a lie to get people to cheer.

If Hillary Clinton was elected, and she was going to fire Comey unless he promised loyalty, and he refused, and she fired him, and his "memo" of that meeting was leaked, the right would say that's proof of Hillary's bad character.

But if Trump does that very thing and lies about it, its because Comey was out to get him, and Trump was just defending himself.

Partisan thinking is a joke. It makes us all self-blinded fools.

trigger warning said...

James Comey has been a virtue signaling, egomaniacal thug who hung his first scalp on the wall with the ridiculous persecution of Martha Stewart.

He'll find a soft landing in some white shoe, left-wing law firm that will pay for his DC rolodex.

Good riddance.

Anonymous said...

You especially, Ares. To the max.

James said...

I personally don't think Trump is reckless, stupid, or self destructing in his statements or tweets. As a matter of fact I think he is using a variation of Mao's "Let a thousand flowers bloom" gambit and I think the left and the media are walking right into the trap.

Ares Olympus said...

It looks like Comey isn't gone yet. Despite Trump saying he feel vindicated, he still doesn't like being called a liar, and is willing to testify under oath that he never asked for loyalty from Comey.

I imagine Trump is saying this because it is easy to talk but he doesn't really mean it. That is, if he's under oath you imagine he could be asked all sorts of things, including things that are not private conversations, but things that might be verified in the future as not true.

So I imagine the way this will work, if someone takes up Trump's offer is he'd want a guarantee he won't be asked anything he doesn't know ahead of time, and when that isn't agreed upon, he'll refuse to follow through.

But why did Trump ask everyone to leave the room and talk alone? Will he deny that as well? What was his intention of that private meeting? And why did he tweet after firing Comey "James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"

Who says something like that, unless he has something to hide! Certainly Trump should be allowed to testify, under any conditions of his choosing, just in case giving him enough rope will help him hang himself. Many republicans surely would also wish this.

Anonymous said...

There is one organization that we absolutely know interfered with the election and that was the DNC in sabotaging Bernie Sanders.

Ares Olympus said...

Anonymous said... There is one organization that we absolutely know interfered with the election and that was the DNC in sabotaging Bernie Sanders.

The Republicans were surprisingly naive in their democratic principles. And look where it got them!