I want to like James Comey. As a former special agent for the FBI, I want to believe that Director Comey upholds the FBI motto, "Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity." However, I have doubts about the "integrity" part when it comes to Comey. As he testified in front of the House Intelligence Committee Monday and told us the FBI is investigating whether members of Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election and that this investigation started in July, I could only ask once again, "What have you done, Director Comey?" Throughout that tortured presidential race there was not a word from him about the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign's possible collusion with the Kremlin. Double standard, to say the least.
On July 5, Comey stepped in for Attorney General Loretta Lynch and told us the FBI recommended that no criminal charges be brought against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as a result of the FBI's investigation into her mishandling of classified emails. He made a rather lengthy statement harshly criticizing Clinton. It was surprising to me that Comey would interject himself and the bureau in the forefront of this matter far beyond the proper role of the bureau and its director.
The October surprise came in the form of Comey's October 28 letter to Congress concerning newly discovered Clinton emails on a laptop obtained by the bureau in its investigation of disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner (husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin). This was the death knell to the Clinton campaign -- yet he kept silent about the Trump campaign and the Russia investigation. Both matters were speculative at the time, and he decided to go public with only one. The Clinton emails quickly proved to be nothing; Comey said so in s November 6 letter. The Trump matter rages on. Would Trump have prevailed if voters knew his campaign was being investigated by the FBI for potentially working with the Russians? Most likely not. Did Comey put his thumb on the scale? Yes. Comey broke with Justice Department policy that dictates not taking any overt action affecting a candidate so close to an election. He doomed Clinton and rescued Trump from defeat. Why?
I can come up with a few theories. Remember, I am a former special agent, and we like to come up with theories. The idea is to confirm or deny through impartial fact-based investigation and keep your mouth shut while you're doing it when you work for the FBI. Were there agents and former agents in the New York field office pressuring Comey to disclose to the public the existence of the newly found Clinton emails, as we've been told by some? If that's the case, then Comey has lost control over the bureau. We were told these agents hate Clinton; we're told Russian President Vladimir Putin hates Clinton. We are reminded once again that intelligent, strong women are not popular among insecure macho men. In the days of J. Edgar Hoover, "problem" agents were transferred to the field office in Butte, Mont. When I was in the bureau, the Butte exile was still possible. That office closed in 1989, but I am sure it has been replaced with yet another undesirable transfer to be made whenever the director so desires, making it easy for Comey to break up the New York Clinton-haters if he wanted to. Actually looking at the emails by obtaining a warrant before writing letters to Congress was possible. Was Comey just doing the old "CYA," popular in the bureau, and believing, like so many, Clinton would win anyway? As we know now, even Putin thought she'd win. Yes, the Trump investigation was an ongoing one, and it will be for a long time. A criminal or a counterintelligence investigation is like a puzzle. You need a few key pieces to make it all fall into place. The problem is the people with those pieces don't want you to have them, and it takes time to get them.
Going forward, do I have faith in Comey to properly investigate the Trump campaign and possible collusion with the Russians? I have no choice. Comey is better than any nightmare Trump would appoint as director of the FBI, and I am forced to place my faith in someone I have little reason to have faith in. We find ourselves in a Shakespearean tragedy with a grossly incompetent, perhaps compromised, president finding his "mandate" to govern in the tyranny of the minority. Trump has been compared to Shakespeare's Richard III. Comey has a pivotal role in bringing us to this place. That is undeniable, and as this tragedy plays out, I find it difficult to trust a man who has betrayed the public trust. What will he say to the woman he has wronged when she finally comes out of the woods?
SUSAN SURFTONE is a musician and just released the EP The Magician.