James Comey’s book has now been released and he has just about completed the entire round of talk shows and interviews, from ABC to Rachel Maddow even to The View. I have seen most of them, although admittedly not the one on The View. It is certainly not a clear cut decision as to what to think of him.
So what do I think? There is no one, single answer. I remain absolutely certain that his two main actions played a crucial role in getting Trump elected.
- The first was when he made that unprecedented announcement that Hillary had not done anything that merited prosecution, but then editorialized that she had been “extremely careless”.
- Then on Oct 28th, just eleven days prior to the election, he announced that Hillary was once again under investigation because of the new emails found on Anthony Weiner’s computer.
There can be no question that that those two comments, particularly the second, directly influenced the razor thin final outcome of the election. As with all Hillary supporters, I felt that his doing that was unforgivable. At the time I can also remember feeling that the only reason that he would do that was because of a personal animus toward Hillary.
I no longer think that. Of that, I am equally certain now.
What I believe is that James Comey was deeply conflicted about how to handle the information that he had at that time. While his intention was to be protective of the FBI and to somehow prevent a Clinton election from being shrouded in illegitimacy, he quite simply made a few huge, well intentioned mistakes.
Comey was interviewed by Stephen Colbert and I found that interview to be one of the best on the part of the interviewer to ask questions which I had been wanting to ask him myself. I should mention that the following You Tube video is unedited and includes quite a bit more of their conversation which was not part of the televised interview on The Late Show.
Colbert challenged Comey directly on his main contention that in his mind, his choice was to “speak or to conceal” when it came to the Weiner emails. Rather, the choice was to, as some have said, adhere to standard FBI policies or to violate them. Colbert also framed it as “weighing the certainty that it would be bad now with maybe that it will be bad later”.
Comey continues to believe that he chose the lesser of two evils. I continue to disagree with that decision, but I no longer ascribe any anti-Hillary bias to that decision.
MSNBC has recently had a number of excellent reports (Headliners) on both Comey and on Robert Mueller. I recommend watching both if you have not done so already. Both men have had exemplary careers devoted to public service and to the rule of law. The contrast with Trump could not be more crystal clear.
Some of the comments in Comey’s book about Trump’s physical appearance and characteristics are unnecessary and have simply been fodder for criticism. The right in particular are grasping at anything to deflect from Comey’s very direct assault on the character and morality (or more accurately the lack of character and morality) of Trump.
In the end, Comey has been relatively consistent through it all. His history of personal integrity I believe makes it impossible for any reasoned individual to have difficulty whatsoever in making the ultimate decision – “Do you believe him, or do you believe Trump?”