While looking for some background information on former FBI Director James Comey, I happened to click on a link that took me to a 2003 profile of him in NEW YORK magazine. How interesting –- I love to look back at contemporaneous observations, in this case from the days following 9/11 and the introduction of the Patriot Act.
The thrust of the piece seems to be that Comey is just a “good guy” who can’t really be pigeonholed politically, and in 2003, that uncomplicated picture might have been adequate to describe him. There was a lot I learned about him, though, including events surrounding the deeply tragic loss of his 9-day-old son from an infection that could easily have been treated at the hospital.
Comey always seems to have been obsessed with moral introspection –- not sure when he picked up the nickname “Cardinal Comey” –- but the impression given in the article is also that of someone who didn’t want to be too public about it, or about his work in general. The future FBI director made it clear to the interviewer that he thought Rudy Giuliani, for example, was too much of an attention-seeker for his taste, much more of a show-boater than he himself could ever be. In that respect, the James Comey we see now appears to have changed a great deal from the man being profiled in 2003, in that today he has no problem with being bathed in the glow of worshipful anti-Trump media attention, which can always be counted on to provide a forum for all his self-indulgent lecturing and posturing and criticizing and condescending and tweeting and famously bragging about going around established procedures because, hey, he thought he could get away with it.
And in light of what we know today about what Comey did to ruin the life and career of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn –- bringing up the Logan Act to President Obama as part of the plan to railroad Flynn over a phone conversation that was a perfectly appropriate part of his new job as Trump’s new national security adviser –- one paragraph in particular leaped out at me:
"When Comey arrives in Washington next month to become interim deputy attorney general (his appointment is subject to confirmation hearings), the Patriot Act’s provisions will be among his main weapons. ‘Filling in this spot is a big...deal. Especially on the terrorism side,’ says a senior staff member on the Senate Judiciary Committee. ‘...Now that the Patriot Act powers are in place,’ the staffer says, ‘the cast of characters --- the people who are really going to implement them --- really matters. A PROSECUTOR WITH THESE TOOLS CAN RUIN SOMEBODY’S LIFE. [Emphasis mine.] Comey comes in with a reputation as a pretty good professional. We’ll see.”
And now, seventeen years later, we have seen.
Another eye-popper, offered by a colleague of Comey’s: “Whenever a new prosecutor started working in the U.S. Attorney’s office, Comey would tell him, ‘Don’t you ever say something you don’t completely believe. I’m not even talking about shades of gray. If you don’t 100 percent believe it, don’t you dare say it. That’s why being a prosecutor is so great: You don’t have to make arguments you don’t believe in.’”
Where to start? When it came to going after Trump and his campaign associates and bringing down Michael Flynn, Comey was painting with more shades of gray than an HGTV house-flipper. Recall that he was one of several officials who signed phony FISA warrant applications, swearing that they contained only “verified” information when they all knew otherwise. And in 2018, he told Rachel Maddow of MSNBC that the FISA process is “incredibly rigorous” and claimed that Republicans’ criticism of the Carter Page FISA warrant application was “a political deal” that was “not based in substance or law.”
That’s 100 percent SOMETHING, all right, but I won't use that language here. I'll just say that the former director of the FBI is a real piece of work. Under Comey’s watch, and with his blessing, the media were presented with a phony “dossier” and a phony story about the resulting “Trump/Russia” investigation, from beginning to end. It was based on nothing, it found nothing, but it told us everything we need to know about the caliber of leadership at the FBI.
If you want to see a master prevaricator at work, just check out this interview Comey gave to Chris Wallace on FOX NEWS after the release of the Horowitz report. He sort-of got away with it at the time, but the internet is forever, and we know so much more now about what really was going on at the FBI. Even so, I’d be willing to bet that in his own mind, he’s still always 100 percent truthful, 100 percent virtuous, a model of goodity and purity for the ages. And if he has to BELIEVE the sky is green and the grass is blue to make other people believe it and still be able to look at himself in the mirror, by golly, he will.
From the archives, here’s that 2003 profile of Comey.