Today, FBI Director James Comey appeared before the Senate committee public hearings investigating two things about last year’s presidential race: the Clinton email mishap and possible collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian government operatives. For the first time, Comey spoke publicly about his reasoning when he announced eleven days before the presidential election why he gave Congress a letter that day, which was immediately made public. The letter said he was looking at Anthony Weiner’s computer that had thousands of Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s emails on it and that due to this Director Comey had just reopened the investigation of Clinton’s email debacle that had plagued her during the presidential campaign. Comey had announced weeks earlier that the FBI had finished this investigation and found no criminal wrongdoing by Mrs. Clinton.
During the hearing today, Democratic senator’s Patrick Leahy and Dianne Feinstein questioned Director Comey about why he would announce the reopening of the Clinton email investigation but not also reveal publicly that several weeks earlier he had started an investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government operatives in an effort to get Trump elected president. Comey had admitted publicly in February this year that the Russians clearly had been trying to influence the election electronically in order to get Trump elected.
Comey said he is now “mildly nauseous” in thinking that these actions he took could have influenced the election, as many people now claim. I feel for him about that. He says he thinks he did the right thing and that he acted “consistently” about both issues. He said he was apolitical throughout the whole ordeal, as an FBI official should be. He indicated that his main priority was to safeguard the integrity of the FBI. Since the policy of the FBI is to not comment on ongoing investigations, he did not reveal that he had an investigation of the Trump people. But he justified his revelation about reopening the Clinton investigation by saying that it would not have been right for him to conceal it and that to do so would be very damaging to the integrity of the FBI.
I’v been having a hard time believing Director Comey is telling the truth about all of this. Why? I think most reasonable people would conclude that if the director was going to make that announcement about Mrs. Clinton, and so close to the election day, to be fair he also should have announced that he had an investigation going on about possible collusion between Trump’s people and Russians. To do what Mr. Comey did, it has looked to me as though he either is lying or just stupid. But then, I’m not a lawman.
I was aghast when Comey revealed in February that during the summer in 2016 the FBI had opened an investigation about possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians. Why was I shocked? I couldn’t believe the media was ignoring this big story–that Comey made public eleven days before the election about then reopening the Clinton investigation whereas he had not made public about the Trump-Russian investigation opened several weeks prior. But it’s not being ignored now; it took Senate hearings for the media to finally start talking about it. See my post about this on April 23 entitled “Did James Comey Affect the Election?” I think Director Comey certainly did affect the election and that it may have been enough to cause Trump to win the presidency. After all, Clinton won the popular vote by more than 3,000,000 votes but lost the only thing that counts–the Electoral College vote.
It now seems to me that Director Comey is being honest and that he suffers from myoptic vision. He only cared about the FBI. But the action he took will go down in history as having the opposite effect as what he was desiring to achieve. This action he took makes the FBI look bad. James Comey needed to step back away from the FBI and try to see the whole picture. He couldn’t do it because he was so committed to the FBI and its policy about not revealing investigations.
But that is not the law in this country. Organizations are constantly in flux, often having to change as they encounter unusual situations. Didn’t Comey overturn that policy by telling Congress he had reopened the Clinton investigation? This was unusual, something never experienced before in the U.S. government. Director Comey couldn’t see the forest for the trees. He needed to get more advice. But even if he had, would he have listened enough to change his mind? It’s now something he’ll have to live with. I wish him well. And after all, we’ll never know for sure if it made a difference in the election.
As for President Trump, he can’t keep his mouth shut. He sounded off about this hearing today and Mrs. Clinton new book, Shattered. Trump tweeted, “FBI Director Comey is the best thing that has ever happened to Hilary Clinton.” Trump added, “He gave her a free pass for many bad deeds.” That’s baloney too.