Yesterday, former FBI Director James Comey testified in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, revealing some important insights into both his relationship with President Trump and his character as a public servant. While many Trump supporters are pleased that Comey's testimony seemed to exhonerate Trump, I think the revelations about Comey's modus operandi as FBI Director are the most important takeaway.
But first off, I think it’s important to note that the investigation into the Trump team’s alleged collusion with Russia, the accusation around which this whole debacle revolves, has not been substantiated in any way. The attempt to paint Trump’s staff, and even the President himself, as Russian sympathizers or operatives remains a manifestation of modern-day McCarthyism, relying on paranoia, circumstantial evidence, and unverified, anonymous leaks.
Just wanted to make sure we're all the same page.
Overall, Comey's testimony painted him as someone more concerned with political maneuovering and public opinion than FBI investigations and the integrity of his position. He admitted to letting media stories drive operations (RIP New York Times confirmed fake news), to providing information to his associate and requesting they leak said information to the press, and to apparently being too passive to call out misconduct by people like Loretta Lynch and President Trump. Although at the hearing Comey was indignant about criticisms directed to himself and the FBI in general, his own account has given the American people more than enough to worry about.
Comey alleges that President Trump told him that he "hopes" he would let the Flynn issue drop, and that Loretta Lynch asked him to refer to the Clinton email probe as a "matter", not an "investigation." Both incidents are at best questionable behavior and at worst an attempt to obstruct a federal investigation. By Comey's own admission, however, even though he had reservations about these conversations, he in no way attempted to either clarify the exchanges or push back against the potential attempts to derail the FBI's work. Either the events happened as he describes them, indicating Comey was too afraid of the political ramifications that would come with opposing figures such as Lynch and Trump to stick up for the integrity of the bureau, or he's lying about them. The excuse that he didn't feel these cases represented "a hill worth dying on" holds absolutely no water.
Additionally, Comey's reference to looking into a New York Times story about Trump's Russia collusion is worrying for more than one reason. FBI Directors should not be taking cues from mainstream media outlets as I would hope they have more information and resources at their disposal than the average, Twitter-verified, lefty-journalist. And, just as crucial, this matter also brings attention to the widespread intelligence leaks that have occured surrounding the Russia investigation. The fact that classified information seems to be spreading throughout the press faster than an STI is a testiment to how broken the intelligence community really is. Instead of attempting to address these leaks, however, Comey was trying to play catch up with the media, apparently no more informed than the rest of the American public.
In closing, I'm glad Comey is no longer heading the FBI, and the only thing I wish is that he had been let go sooner.