Former FBI Director James Comey is manipulating the media and Congress in an attempt to rescue his reputation.
Wanting to rejoin the workforce in the near future he has to do something – and he is.
James Comey is using a cadre of anonymous associates, friends, alleged memos, convenient press events and a complicit media to make his case to a future employer that his firing was improper and without merit.
The Comey Memo Goes to Motive
The leak of the memo was intended to do two things. First, paint President Trump as a tyrannical thug and second, create an ulterior motive for Comey’s firing: The president hinted he wanted the Flynn thing to go away and when it didn’t, Trump fired him.
The memo, widely reported upon, is being pointed to as proof that the president attempted to obstruct the FBI investigation into Michael Flynn.
“I hope you can let this go,” Trump told Comey according to a report on the memo. The statement isn’t the obstruction of justice the media and Congressional Democrats make it out to be. Hoping Flynn doesn’t get charged and ordering it to be so are two different things.
The memo hasn’t been seen by anyone outside the FBI if it even exists. It was read by an anonymous associate of Comey to the New York Times. Why didn’t the Times demand that the memo be faxed or emailed to them before running the story? How could they certify that it was written at the time or by the person the unnamed source said it was?
Donald Trump issued a statement saying that Comey’s recollection of the discussion was incorrect. With only each man’s word against the other, it’s unlikely that anyone will be able to prove whether Comey got it wrong or not.
If Comey felt that the president was attempting to stop the investigation into Michael Flynn, he would have been required by law to report it to the Department of Justice and Congress. He did exactly the opposite. Director Comey and now Acting Director Andrew McCabe testified to Congress under oath that no one had interfered in the Russia investigations.
Optics and Credibility
Comey tried to hide among some curtains during an Inauguration Day event to avoid interacting with the president according to Ben Wittes, a friend of his.
Comey described really not wanting to go to that meeting, for the same reason he later did not want to go to the private dinner with Trump: the FBI director should be always at arm’s length from the President, in his view. There was an additional sensitivity here too, because many Democrats blamed Comey for Trump’s election, so he didn’t want any shows of closeness between the two that might reinforce a perception that he had put a thumb on the scale in Trump’s favor.
The meeting was nearly over, he said, and he really thought he was going to get away without an individual interaction. But when you’re six foot, eight inches tall, it’s hard to blend in forever, and Trump ultimately singled him out—and did so with the most damning faint praise possible: “Oh, and there’s Jim. He’s become more famous than me!”
Comey took the long walk across the room determined, he told me, that there was not going to be a hug. Bad enough that he was there; bad enough that there would be a handshake; he emphatically did not want any show of warmth.
While the account looks entirely true, why did it come out on May 18th? The inauguration was in January.
The release of the “hug” story has only one goal: paint Comey as a stand-up guy that wants no part of political partisanship. The bungled Hillary Clinton investigation, press conference and failure to send the case to the Justice Department tell a different story.
Discredit the Boss while Hoisting the Petard
The director of the FBI serves at the pleasure of the president, but he reports directly to the Deputy Attorney General.
Comey supposedly expressed concerns about Deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein who authored a memo outlining reasons Comey should not remain as the director of the FBI.
The same friend that spilled his guts to the New York Times on the “hug” also publicized his recollection of a conversation with Comey in which he had “concerns” about the incoming Rosenstein.
Wittes said he approved of Rosenstein, but to his surprise Comey had reservations.
“He said, ‘I don’t know. I have some concerns. He’s good, he’s solid but he’s also a survivor and you don’t survive that long without making some compromises and I’m concerned about that,'” Wittes recounted to the New York Times.
“You don’t survive long without making some compromises.” Let that sit a minute. Comey didn’t survive so that must mean that he’s uncompromising. That’s how you insult the guy who detailed your faults in a memo and hoist your own petard in a single sentence.
Media and Congress Swallowing Everything Comey’s Laying Down
Anything Comey puts out through friends and unnamed associates becomes fact, is reported on the front page and leads to another Congressional hearing. There are currently six congressional hearings on Russian interference in the election. Six! Add in the FBI investigations and the new special counsel and things are getting a bit out of hand. It’s by design.
The more chaos and crisis that surrounds the White House, the less Comey’s firing is about his improper press conference announcing the large list of chargeable offenses attributable to Hillary Clinton and his decision not to pass the case to the Attorney General. That little nugget has disappeared from news reports.
It wasn’t his job to decide whether or not to prosecute but he jumped in front of cameras and told the world it was. He then went in front of Congress and made a series of lame excuses as to why he did it. Trump watched the hearing and had seen enough. That’s why he got fired.
Comey is rebuilding a reputation he tarnished. If that means that the presidency has to take a hit in order to accomplish the goal, so be it.