“We are not weasels!” FBI chief James Comey told Congress back in 2016. His behavior outlined in the DOJ watchdog report, as well as the memos he wrote himself about meetings with President Donald Trump, points otherwise.
Comey voiced the “weasel defense” during a September 2016 congressional hearinginto the FBI’s probe of Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state investigated for running official business on a private email server. He was defending the Bureau’s conduct of the investigation, which treated Clinton and her confederates with kid gloves and ended when Comey himself held a press conference publicly exonerating her – in violation of every FBI and Justice Department protocol applicable.
Ironically, Clinton still blamed Comey for losing the presidential election to Trump – at least until Trump fired the FBI chief in May 2017, whereupon all was forgiven and he became a martyr of the Democrat ‘Resistance.’ It was also at that point that Comey leaked his memos of meetings with Trump to the press, hoping to get a special counsel appointed. That’s how the Robert Mueller probe came into being, in case anyone still remembers that one.
Since then, Comey has become a celebrity virtue-signaler, publishing a book claiming 'A Higher Loyalty' and urging everyone to vote Democrat. Except his virtue is highly dubious, and his loyalty appears to be only to himself, judging by the information contained in the report by the DOJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG), released on Thursday.
At the heart of the report is Comey’s handling of the seven memos about his meetings with Trump, which he claimed were personal records. That claim has “no support in the law and is wholly incompatible with the plain language of the statutes, regulations, and policies,” the OIG concluded. It was wrong of him to take them home, keep them from the FBI, and leak their contents to the press.
That hasn’t stopped Comey from claiming the report exonerates him from false accusations, because he hadn’t leaked any “classified” information and isn’t going to jail. Way to argue against a straw man, Jim!
True enough, the DOJ has chosen not to charge Comey over the memos, reportedly because they didn’t want it to look “petty and vindictive” to go after him on a technicality. Yet such concerns hadn’t stopped Mueller and his team from throwing the book at anyone even remotely connected to Trump, ruining dozens of lives but ultimately failing to find any traces of the phantom ‘Russian collusion.’
As another OIG report – on the FBI and DOJ spying on Trump’s campaign – is still pending, along with a criminal probe into that matter, it might be premature to claim Comey’s in the clear. For now, however, he seems to be.
Reading this OIG report, it becomes clear that the FBI director absolutely abused his power in pursuit of personal objectives – not just by leaking memos so he could get a friend appointed special counsel to go after Trump, but by what’s in the memos themselves. Comey’s own words betray him, such as this line from the January 27, 2017 memo:
I explained that he could count on me to always tell him the truth. I said I don't do sneaky things, I don't leak, I don't do weasel moves.
Yet here is Comey just three weeks earlier, in the very first memo, talking about the meeting he had arranged with CIA Director John Brennan and DNI James Clapper to brief the president-elect on the notorious 'Steele dossier':
I then executed the session exactly as I had planned.
Within days, word of the briefing made it to CNN, which then reported on the dossier’s existence, and BuzzFeed actually published it. It was never officially established how the information got out, though Trump was understandably furious and even asked Comey about it.
“Comey said that, among other things, he remembered telling Trump that the source of the information was 'not a government document, and it's not classified’,” says the OIG report. Doesn’t that description perfectly match Comey’s description of his memos? Simply astounding.
There is more, of course. Comey repeatedly vouched for his deputy Andrew McCabe as “honest” and “professional.” McCabe was later fired after the OIG found he leaked to the press, then lied under oath about it. Comey also vouched for the professionalism of the FBI – including, presumably, senior agent Peter Strzok and attorney Lisa Page, whose text messages revealing their loathing of Trump and his supporters emerged months later and got them removed from the Mueler probe.
Comey’s actions “set a dangerous example” for current and former FBI employees, the OIG report said. That’s putting it mildly. The White House slammed the former FBI chief as “a proven liar and leaker” who “disgraced himself and his office to further a personal political agenda.”
Why, then, is he not being punished for it? Trump came into office on a promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington, DC. Instead, he meekly submitted to a two-year probe that found nothing, and limited himself to angry tweets as people who supported him were sacrificed on the altar of the ‘Deep State.’
This kind of restraint hasn’t prevented his critics from calling him a tyrannical, dictatorial Nazi, either – while Americans who voted for him got the message that their president is powerless to stop or punish this kind of behavior; that there are two sets of laws in the US, one for the powerful and another for the “deplorables.”
The kind of injury to the fabric of the Republic caused by Comey and his confederates requires a stronger disinfectant than mere sunlight.