U.S. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced recently that he will conduct an ethics investigation into the handling of Hillary Clinton’s email investigation by FBI Director James B. Comey and the Justice Department.
The conservative Wall Street Journal moved quickly to call upon the FBI director to resign. The Boston Globe followed suit.
Botched Investigations and Political Interference
Director Comey is three years into his 10-year term, which is set to expire in September of 2023, and has repeatedly come under fire for questionable handing of high profile investigations.
There is no question that Comey violated long-established Justice Department protocols with his extremely biased news conference announcing Hillary Clinton’s clearance of any criminal wrongdoing by interjecting his personal views criticizing Clinton and her staff. Comey further politicized the Bureau, and threatened its legitimacy as an honest broker, by publicly releasing a letter he sent to eight Republican members of Congress, just eleven days before the November presidential election, announcing that he was re-opening the Clinton email investigation. The letter not only interfered with the election process, but very well may have cost Hillary Clinton the election, a role for which the apolitical FBI should have no place.
Unethical and Arguably Criminal Conduct
No FBI director, not even J. Edgar Hoover, has ever conducted himself in such an unethical and possibly criminal manner as Comey has with his extraordinary July press conference and his October 28 letter to members of Congress—both of which were seemingly designed to affect the Presidential election process.
The central issue in the FBI/Justice Department investigation of Clinton was whether she had, during her tenure as Secretary of State, knowingly disclosed classified information through her unauthorized private email server. The essential conclusion of the FBI investigation was that while some of Clinton’s emails contained classified information, there was no evidence she had “knowingly” disclosed or even misused classified information—an essential element necessary to established a criminal violation.
Director Comey Remained Silent on Allegations About Trump
The FBI Director’s appearance of impropriety was further punctuated when he failed to take equivalent postures with serious criminal allegations, implicating national security, regarding the Trump campaign team.
Shortly after Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton became the party’s respective presidential nominees, they began to receive classified intelligence briefings. Trump was accompanied by members of his security and advisory team in these briefings. This group of people was extended to members of Trump’s transition team, including his designated National Security Advisor retired. Gen. Michael J. Flynn (an individual with longstanding personal ties with the Russian government, including President Vladimir Putin).
Fmr. British Intel Agent Delivers Dossier to FBI
In July 2016, a former British intelligence agent who had a reliable and fruitful history of working with American intelligence and law enforcement agencies delivered to the FBI office in Rome a 36-page dossier of memos detailing, in both specific and graphic terms, potential blackmail information on Trump in the possession of the Russian intelligence service. The dossier also contained explosive information that members of the Trump campaign had been working with Russian representatives and intelligence agents to disseminate damaging information (through Wiki-Leaks and “fake news” outlets) about Hillary Clinton.
This “alleged” information about wrongdoing had been gathered by the British agent after he was hired in September 2015 by a Washington-based research group established by Republicans opposed to Trump to find any discrediting information about him. Media outlets have reported that this agent was so disturbed by the information he developed that he delivered it to the FBI before turning it over to the research group that hired him.
Director Silent as FBI Investigates Trump Campaign Manager
Almost simultaneously the FBI developed information that Trump’s campaign manager at the time, Paul Manafort, may have had possible criminal business dealings with the Russians and specifically with the Kremlin-backed former president of Ukraine. Manafort quickly resigned.
The FBI did not issue any public statements about any investigation into either the Manafort case or the information supplied by the former MI6 British agent.
During the fall as the Russian effort to assist Trump’s election campaign intensified, Trump and his campaign were still receiving highly sensitive classified information about world affairs, including those associated with Russia.
The FBI director did not, in keeping with protocol, make any public statements about any information, if any, his agency had developed about the Trump/Russian connection.
Giuliani Lets the Cat Out of the Bag
This is peculiar because just two days before Comey released his October 28 letter Rudy Giuliani, speaking about the FBI director, told Fox News, “I think he’s (Comey) got a surprise or two you’re going to hear about in the next two days. I’m talking about some pretty big surprises.”
In a recent classified meeting with Congressional Democrats, the director was less than forthcoming about the reasons he made the Clinton email investigation such a public spectacle while shrouding the Trump/Russian investigation in secrecy—assuming an investigation was even undertaken.
Undoubtedly, Comey will argue that there was a “compelling public interest” in disclosing information about the Clinton email investigation while such a need did not exist about the alleged connections between the Trump campaign and Russian government officials.
Public Had Right to Know Dirt on Both Sides
We believe otherwise. The public had as much a right to know before the November 8 election that the Russians were boasting that they had “compromising” information about Trump and that there were credible allegations that members of his campaign had (perhaps unlawfully) shared information with the Russians.
The fact that Trump and his campaign was closely associated with and continuous issued praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin throughout the presidential election lends additional credibility to the British spy information provided to the FBI.
Did Trump Violate Federal Law?
From a pure legal standpoint, there was more “probable cause” (reasonable suspicion) that Trump and his campaign had violated federal law(s) in their relationship with Russia than there was that the Anthony Weiner laptop contained Hillary Clinton emails revealing classified information. That’s because Clinton had been cleared by the FBI of any criminal wrongdoing last summer, while at the same time respected law makers were charging that Trump himself had violated the Logan Act by asking Russian hackers to spy on Clinton
Thus, there was, and remains, more than “reasonable suspicion” in the public record that Trump and/or his campaign violated federal laws, and perhaps that some even committed treason.
Treason is the act of betraying one’s country by giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
Arguably, any effort to collaborate with a foreign power to interfere with this nation’s presidential election process in favor of one candidate over another is an act of treason.
Russia Getting What It Paid For
It was recently reported in the media that retired Gen. Michael J. Flynn had several conversations with Russia’s U.S. Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on the very day that President Obama announced sanctions against the Russian government for its interference in the 2016 presidential.
Trump’s transition team vehemently denied that Flynn’s conversations had anything to do with the American imposed sanctions because if they had, this would be a clear violation of the Logan Act. The transition team stated the Flynn/Kislyak talks pertained to setting up the logistics for a future telephone conversation between Putin and Trump.
However, just days later, Trump stated that he would consider lifting the Obama sanctions on Russia; further lending credence to the reasonable suspicion that the Flynn/Kislyak conversations may indeed have been about those sanctions in violation of the Logan Act.
These verified media reports (including Trump’s own statements) create more than a “reasonable suspicion” that there has been criminal wrongdoing associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election—and all of this underscores why FBI Director James Comey should have respected established Justice Department protocols rather than engage in a partisan effort to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential election chances. The Director clearly chose one candidate over the other.
James C. Comey has lost all of his professional credibility and has severely undermined the integrity of the FBI with his handling of the Clinton email investigation. He should resign forthwith.