FBI Director James Comey. (Cliff Owen/Associated Press)
James Comey went on Fox News Sunday to tell Chris Wallace’s viewers “it’s all made up.” He wants you to know that everything President Trump has alleged about the FBI: that it’s politically motivated; that it’s a “deep state” trying to undo the 2016 election; that people’s lives have been ruined by “scum”; none of it is true.
It’s a fantastic tale, but nobody is buying it.
For instance, Comey claimed that as director of the FBI, he was “seven levels” above the Trump campaign investigation, and therefore not briefed on the minutiae of the FISA application. This isn’t even close to plausible, as Comey was intimately involved in the concurrent investigation into Hillary Clinton, even making an announcement about the reopening of that investigation just days before the election. Does anyone believe that Comey was somehow out of the loop in late July when the FBI kicked off the Papadopoulos investigation, and on October 21, when the first FISA application was filed?
At the same time, texts flying between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page showed their personal political bias. These were key details that Comey has totally glossed over. In fact, Strzok was nearly removed from the Crossfire Hurricane investigation because of his relationship with Page. Comey would have Fox News viewers believe that none of this moved the goalposts in the “tipping point,” that the Steele dossier was merely one of many elements in deciding to pursue FISA warrants on Carter Page and others in the Trump campaign.
Add to that, the fact that Comey personally briefed then-President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower. Comey knew everything, as Andrew McCarthy noted back in August.
What we learn is that Comey and his top FBI advisers prepared extensively for the then-director’s January 6, 2017, briefing of then-president-elect Trump. The detailed preparation owed to the fact that the FBI regarded the session at Trump Tower in New York not as a mere briefing but as anevidence-gathering opportunity. That’s because they were investigating Trump, which they hoped to continue doing when he took office . . . which called for putting him at ease . . . which meant telling him that they were not investigating him.
Of course Trump was the target. He was always the target, and Comey trying to paint the FBI as “untouchable” by political motives is risible.
That being said, the president’s own statements are, as always, over the top. There was no “coup” in the sense that people conspired to remove Trump from office. Trump did things (and continues to do things) that were (and are) worth investigating. The FBI itself isn’t wrong to investigate Trump’s campaign. It’s not the nature of what they investigated–it’s how it was investigated, and the motive of those doing the investigating.
Comey wants Americans to believe that the FBI is honest and beyond reproach, and would never target Trump in a way to harm him or those around him. He wants us to believe that the problems the IG report found were merely mistakes. He wants us to know that he’s sorry that he put too much trust in the FISA procedures, developed over 20 years between DOJ and the FBI.
He’s shocked that the procedures had holes big enough to drive a truck through, and those holes were exploited in order to maintain secret surveillance on a variety of Trump campaign associates. He’s sorry that Carter Page and others were harmed in the course of the investigation. But if he was still FBI director, he wouldn’t resign over these mistakes.
Comey is not believable, because he knew about the holes in the FISA procedures. He was briefed on the applications. He knew exactly what was going on, and who was doing it and why. The man who ran the FBI knew he was trying to play the president-elect, and then the same man as president, into revealing some prosecutable crime. McCarthy wrote:
In June 2017, when the existence of former director Comey’s memos first emerged, he was asked why he’d made them. He explained, “I understood this to be my recollection recorded of my conversation with the president” (emphasis added). I observed at the time that, as an old prosecutor, that got my antennae pinging. To non-attorneys, this was just gobbledygook. But as any trial lawyer can tell you, “recollection recorded” is not an idle phrase. It is a term of art in the Federal Rules of Evidence (specifically, Rule 803(5), “Recorded Recollection”).
The director of the FBI would not walk into a personal briefing with the subject of an investigation without being ultra-prepared. Comey knew everything in December 2016. This means everything in Comey’s book; everything he’s claimed about his own role since he was fired, is self-serving twaddle.
“It’s all made up,” Comey concluded in his Fox News Sunday interview. No, it’s not made up. It happened. Trump, as usual, paints this in hyperbole and ridiculous accusations. But Comey’s choir boy explanation of innocence is total bull excrement. He knows it, but thinks he can convince Americans (apart from those who despise Trump anyway) that he was acting without bias or malice.
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