Comey’s Trail: Leaks, Lies, and Memos
The media must be commended for their diligence and perseverance in holding the president and all of his associates accountable for everything that they have said and done. The First Amendment was established for this express purpose of making sure the press had the ability to publish any story without fear of repression from the government. As it has turned out in the past few months, the media has consistently followed the trail of Russia collusion, the Flynn investigation, Comey, and any other legal issues concerning the president’s associates.
Although the First Amendment allows for almost any news story to be published and gain relevance, there are still some general rules and guidelines that need to be applied. As it can be difficult to ascertain the trustworthiness of a source, here are four questions to keep in mind.
- Does the article list sources for statements that they claim or do they use unnamed sources?
- Does the article have a title designed to draw in readers, but fail to substantiate the title’s claim?
- Does the article reference an official or relevant figure’s quote in the article’s title, but then fail to explain the context of the quote?
- When writing about a speech, hearing, or some other publicized event, does the article include the important points from the whole event or just the ones relevant to a certain side’s argument?
There are possibly quite a few more that could be added to this list, but these rules will allow for better scrutiny on articles that are published even by major news sources. Perhaps it will allow others to expose the desperate attempts by media organizations to use pieces of stories to fuel their narratives, which may prove to be false.
Indeed, quite a digression from the topic at hand. Comey returned to Washington to be questioned. The lines of questioning by the senators were many, but there were a few salient points. Comey appeared to be able to effectively deny the allegations that Trump or his associates had attempted to shut down the Russian investigation. The situation began to be very unclear when it came to the Michael Flynn investigation. Comey claimed that the President had stated that he “hoped” that Comey and the FBI could let the investigation go. Apparently, Comey took that as a directive. The president was specifically stating that he wanted the Flynn investigation to end. Along with this “directive”, the president also demanded complete “loyalty” from the FBI director. Very confusing to say the least.
In his conversations with the president, Comey said that the president thought that Flynn hadn’t done anything improper with the Russians, but had to let him go for other reasons. Concerning the “I hope you can let this go” comment, Comey took that as an order from the president to end the Flynn investigation, which Comey found to be very disconcerting. When it came to “loyalty” at a different meeting, Comey stated that he told the president he would get “honest loyalty”.
In order to break this down, it would be proper to examine a line of questioning from Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) at the hearing. He asked if the Flynn investigation had been brought up any subsequent meetings and Comey replied that it had not. It seems that Comey is implying that he took the president’s words from their closed-door meeting to mean that he was supposed to shut down the Flynn investigation. Now, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Ca.) had a differing view when it came to those words. She used an armed robber metaphor to describe the situation. Sen. Harris viewed the situation as Trump holding a gun to Comey’s head and saying, “I hope you can let this go”. Unless Comey is not being honest in his memo about the meeting, it is hard to follow the logic that using those words in any way implies a threat to Comey. To our knowledge, there are no reports that Comey’s job was threatened or any other foul play was conducted. The president wasn’t adamant about Hillary Clinton being continually investigated after the election. He let that process play out as it would. The president is obviously still a friend of Flynn and doesn’t want him to endure further consequences, but he still respects what the law orders. The armed robber metaphor cannot apply because Trump was not trying or attempting to threaten Comey into dropping the investigation.
Comey told the president that he should expect “honest loyalty” from him. This should imply that Comey will be bold in confronting the president over improper actions and requests. He would be loyal in telling the truth and showing accurate representations of what is happening. Instead, it seems here that Comey was too weak-minded to stand up to the president over this possible “obstruction of justice” and followed through on reporting the one-time statement on Flynn as a direct order without any other thought to its ramifications. It would seem proper to have a strong-minded and unshaken FBI director that will confront the president if necessary on any issues similar to these, just like the director would devote energy and effort to defeating terrorists.
The former FBI director also plunged into potential legal trouble with his own leaked memos. After Trump’s tweet about possibly having tapes of their conversations, Comey wanted to get the memos out. He had a professor friend be responsible for sharing them with the media. The question on legality is confusing, but it mostly comes down to identifying the memos as classified or not. Are Comey’s conversations with the president unclassified to an extent they can be shared with the public or not? Legal questions will continue to abound, but with the special counsel investigation dominating the coverage, it is unlikely any legal action will be taken.
Comey’s firing was not the end of the story, but only the beginning. Questions and confusion still abound, but the trustworthy reputation of Comey has to be called into question. What we should hope for is that the special counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller will continue properly without the interference of the news media or any other organization. Stop the flow of leaks and let the investigation carry out without interruption. This will allow for results that will clearly show whether there was “obstruction of justice” or not.