James Comey's Redemption Tour Should Include an Apology for Giving Us Trump

James Comey

Former FBI Director James Comey kicks off his nationwide book tour in New York City on April 18, the day after his much-anticipated book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, is scheduled for release. Of course, the chapters concerning the 2016 presidential election and Comey’s politicization of the FBI will immediately be in the headlines. Will he look for redemption after costing Hillary Clinton the election and unleashing Donald Trump on us or will he self-righteously give us lessons on his own personal brand of integrity? I’m betting the latter.

Throughout his career as a federal prosecutor and director of the FBI, James Comey has been deeply concerned about doing the right thing as he defines it. He was no stranger to the Clintons prior to 2016. While working for then-U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Rudy Giuliani from 1987 to 1993, Comey oversaw the case against Marc Rich, a financier who fled the country after indictment for tax evasion and illegal dealings with Iran. In 1996 he was deputy special counsel for the Senate Whitewater Committee. As U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (January 2002 to December 2003), Comey led a criminal investigation into President Bill Clinton’s controversial pardon of Rich, which led to no prosecution. Also of interest, Comey locked up Martha Stewart in 2002 for obstruction of justice and making false statements.

On September 4, 2013, James B. Comey was appointed director of the FBI by President Obama, succeeding Robert S. Mueller, III. Comey served as a well-regarded and respected director until being caught up in the 2016 presidential election, an election like no other. His actions as director, which ran contrary to Department of Justice policy, require a frank explanation to the American people and to the woman robbed of the presidency. He did the unthinkable when he involved the Bureau in a political election and it is not a stretch to say his infamous letter of October 28, 2016 cost Clinton the election.

Comey took center stage in a July 2016 press conference announcing that Secretary Clinton was “extremely careless” in the handling of classified information, but no reasonable prosecutor would pursue charges based on the evidence. Making such a statement was not within his duties as director of the FBI. Such an announcement should have come from either Attorney General Loretta Lynch or Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. He overstepped in giving any assessment of Clinton’s handling of classified information, especially considering there were no charges.

The Washington Post’s “Timeline of the Investigation into Trump and Russia” by Philip Bump, updated March 16, is well worth reading; it addresses only the facts. On July 31, 2016, the FBI began investigating possible links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign after the July 22 WikiLeaks release of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee. The release of these stolen emails confirmed a report from Australian High Commissioner to Great Britain Alexander Downer, who said he had a May 2016 conversation with George Papadopoulos — a member of the Trump campaign — regarding the Russians’ possession of "dirt" on Clinton. The Democratic Convention to nominate Hillary Clinton began on July 25. In August 2016, Roger Stone began his private conversation on Twitter with Guccifer 2.0, known to be a Russian intelligence officer. In September 2016, the Congressional leadership was briefed about the CIA’s belief that Russia was intervening to help Trump. In early October 2016, WikiLeaks began releasing Podesta’s stolen emails to draw attention away from the devastating airing of the Access Hollywood tape where Trump admitted to sexually assaulting women. On October 14, 2016, Mike Pence, during a Fox interview, denied any connection between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks. Comey remained silent about any FBI investigation of the Trump campaign and Russia.

On October 28, 2016, Comey wrote his letter to Congress about the discovery of new Clinton emails in an unrelated case that may be pertinent to the investigation of Clinton’s private email server. He stated the emails had not yet been assessed as to their significance. Included on the letter is Congressman David Nunes, a now familiar name, and Congressman Jason Chaffetz who immediately took the information to Twitter. Damage done. On October 30, Senator Harry Reid fired off a letter to Comey about the Bureau sitting on explosive information concerning the Trump campaign and Russia and on October 31, The New York Times ran an article by Eric Lichtblau and Steven Lee Myers: “Investigating Donald Trump, FBI Sees No Clear Link To Russia.” On November 6, Comey informed Congress the newly found Clinton emails were a dud.

We do need an explanation from James Comey as to why he allowed Americans to go to the polls without disclosure about the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia, while he felt obligated to inform Congress about the newly discovered Clinton emails before he knew their relevance — of which there was none. Most likely we will get a self-serving lecture on James Comey’s definition of integrity. Little good that will do a nation suffering every day at the hand of Trump. Let’s hope Mueller is successful in removing from office the incompetent narcissist Comey helped put there.

SUSAN SURFTONE is a musician who previously served as an FBI agent. Her latest EP is Making Waves Again.

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