Former FBI director James Comey appeared to have found himself on murky ground politically during investigations of Hillary Clinton’s email servers and of allegations Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential election.
Whatever Comey did, one major party wasn’t going to be pleased on either issue.
Now Comey will testify before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Republican Richard Burr (NC) is chair of the committee. Comey’s opening statement—that’s the one various pundits are quoting from ahead of the hearing—is online. So you can read it for yourself and decide whether there’s potential for bombshells either way—to help President Donald Trump or to further smear him.
It doesn’t look like there’s much new in this statement, but two things stand out for me.
Here are two key passages from Comey’s opening statement on June 8:
“In that context, prior to the January 6 meeting, I discussed with the FBI’s leadership team whether I should be prepared to assure President-Elect Trump that we were not investigating him personally. That was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him. We agreed I should do so if circumstances warranted. During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President-Elect Trump’s reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the question, I offered that assurance.” [and]
“I explained that we had briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and that we had told those Congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating President Trump.”
Questions do remain, but it isn’t likely they’ll be asked because in my opinion, these hearings have been politically driven. I say that because of actions by presidents from both major parties in the past, and the absence of investigation on matters that should matter. Iran comes to mind.
It’s possible quite a few Republicans, especially some old-timers in the US Senate, hoped Hillary Clinton would be the second in her family to take the White House. What is very troubling about Republican leadership in the Senate is the fact most seem fine with Mrs. Clinton’s seriously jeopardizing national security by the use of multiple private servers to transmit and store her data as secretary of state.
As I pointed out in an earlier column, Comey provided ample evidence for charges against Mrs. Clinton, but chose to act inappropriately as investigator, prosecutor, and jury in clearing her of wrongdoing based on his perceptions of her “intent.” You cannot read his statement without wondering if, indeed, his decision led to Trump’s characterization of him as a “nut job.” As I pointed out in a column about that, the alternative to that label was actually more damaging.
While Comey sounded as though he was criticizing Mrs. Clinton, his past government service has been beneficial to the Clinton family on more than one occasion. Conservative website Front Page documents Comey’s decisions on matters such as Bill Clinton’s pardons of individuals who really shouldn’t have received them if an honest assessment was made. Whether intentional or not, Mr. Comey certainly accommodated Bill Clinton when he was president.
Former president Barack Obama seemed to criticize Comey shortly before the 2016 election. As is customary with polished politicos from both major parties, Obama’s pronouncement on Comey and the Clinton investigation (Hillary) was couched in typically laundered language:
“We operate based on concrete decisions that are made. When this was investigated thoroughly last time, the conclusion of the FBI, the conclusion of the Justice Department, the conclusion of repeated congressional investigations was she had made some mistakes but that there wasn’t anything there that was prosecutable…”
There was also the meeting between the US attorney general, Loretta Lynch, and former president Clinton as the election neared and the investigation proceeded. Little outrage was expressed by the media machine dominated by the US left. The double standard actually worked in Trump’s favor because many of us simply did not believe Lynch and Mr. Clinton talked strictly about personal matters.
Senators will get their opportunity to quiz Comey about his statement during the hearing scheduled for June 8 beginning at 10 a.m. Networks are promoting this event with a carnival-like atmosphere, but I predict there will be little of note to digest. Why?
Comey’s statement speaks for itself, suggesting Trump has nothing to worry about other than from Democrats as well as his opponents within the Republican party who preferred Mrs. Clinton in the White House in order to maintain the status quo.
It’s ironic, considering gains for Russia enabled by both Obama and Mrs. Clinton are long forgotten. Those gains warrant an investigation as robust as that of the Trump campaign.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/June 7, 2017)