Monday, November 7, 2016

The Political Mr. Comey

The FBI director gives Democrats the conclusion they demanded.


By Review & Outlook
The Wall Street Journal
November 7, 2016

It looks like our contributor, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, was right last week. FBI Director James Comey’s review of newly discovered Hillary Clinton-related emails was never going to change his legal judgment because the FBI and Justice Department handling of the case was never serious in the first place.

The Justice Department never went to a grand jury in the case, which was needed to gather all appropriate evidence and vet the legal charges. Judge Mukasey’s judgment was vindicated on Sunday when Mr. Comey sent a letter to Congress saying that the FBI had reviewed the new emails and “we have not changed our conclusion that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton.”

To rehearse Mr. Comey’s actions: In July he publicly exonerates Mrs. Clinton in an extraordinary press event, two weeks before she is to be nominated for President, though that is not his responsibility. He thus liberates Attorney General Loretta Lynch from her decision-making obligations as the nation’s chief prosecuting official. Later we learn Justice cut needless and generous immunity deals with Mrs. Clinton’s advisers.

Then 11 days before Election Day Mr. Comey sends a letter to Congress saying the FBI has found new email evidence. He comes under ferocious Democratic assault for meddling in the final days of the campaign. His boss, President Obama, joins the criticism and says Mrs. Clinton has already been exonerated. Then two days before the election Mr. Comey sends another letter exonerating Mrs. Clinton again. And Washington’s political class wonders why Americans don’t trust government?

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the main point of Mr. Comey’s many political interventions has always been to protect Mr. Comey’s job and political standing. Certainly Mrs. Clinton will have cause to be grateful to Mr. Comey if she wins on Tuesday. The price to the country is the damage he has done to the reputation of the FBI as an apolitical law-enforcement agency.

In better news for the cause of justice related to Mr. Comey, the D.C. Court of Appeals last week reinstated Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s law license. Readers will recall that as Deputy Attorney General in the Bush Administration, Mr. Comey named his buddy Patrick Fitzgerald as a special prosecutor in connection with the leak of Valerie Plame’s CIA identity. Mr. Comey then stood by as Mr. Fitzgerald pursued Mr. Libby, who was Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, even after he knew that someone else had leaked Ms. Plame’s name.

Mr. Fitzgerald won the conviction based on testimony that a key witness, journalist Judith Miller, has since recanted. The office of the D.C. disciplinary counsel recommended that Mr. Libby’s law license be reinstated in part due to Ms. Miller’s recantation. The hyperpolitical Mr. Comey has left a trail of legal messes wherever he has worked, but at least Mr. Libby can earn a living at his chosen profession again.


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