Comey Out: Political Games Over at the FBI?
It was back in the summer of 2016, when FBI Director James Comey made several statements about then candidate Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information on insecure email servers. In his statements, he laid out the case for opening and thus continuing the major investigation into the use of private email servers, the contents of the emails, and whether laws were broken. However, that was not the case as Comey merely dismissed the possibility of an investigation by concluding that Clinton and her aides were “extremely careless” in the handling of classified information.
It was in October, during the height of the general election, when Comey announced that the FBI was reopening an investigation into the Clinton email probe after seizing a new round of emails from Huma Abedin’s account, which came from Anthony Weiner’s devices. While Republicans and Trump supporters cheered, there was great frustration from the Democrats. The letter to Congress and the lack of concrete details made it seem that the FBI director was politicizing the investigation. In the days following, leading up to the election, there were many rumors, ideas, and theories, but no concrete details on the purpose or status of the investigation.
Following Clinton’s loss, many from her party and team blamed Comey. When Clinton came out of seclusion to discuss her loss, she listed Comey’s intervention as the one of the reasons for her downfall. Despite the controversy, Comey retained his position after Trump took office. He was eventually involved in leading the investigation into the suspected Russian interference in the election. The investigation dragged on, once again, without any concrete conclusion or evidence that a single vote by an American citizen was altered by Russian interference.
It seemed at one time or another, both Republicans and Democrats were frustrated by Comey’s actions or lack of action. Finally, even President Trump lost his patience and quickly dismissed him. The Democrats began an outcry that the firing was meant to put an end to or stall the Russian investigation. It was even paralleled with President Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre”. The story seems a little different this time. Nixon wanted the special prosecutor, Archibald Cox, fired, but his attorney generals refused to do it and resigned in protest. Acting Attorney General Robert Bork eventually got the job done, but the evidence continued to mount against Nixon’s alleged crimes. In this case, although the president made the decision, it was also the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General that recommended Comey’s firing.
Can the respect and integrity of the FBI be restored? A good indicator will be to look at the potential list of directors and see who will bring a fresh start to the highly valuable organization. The focus needs to be on making the agency a completely independent, law-respecting, and honorable intelligence organization that puts the rule of law over partisan bickering. The American people can only hope that the president can nominate someone that will move swiftly to address the Russian interference allegations and investigate all other cases without succumbing to political pressure.