Yesterday, I wrote about the stalling of the IG report in the worst place for it to be languishing; namely, the DOJ/FBI, where the very departments cited for misconduct get to review it and perhaps do some editing and redacting to lessen its impact. It’ll be up to Inspector General Michael Horowitz to keep them from watering down what we’ve heard is a scathing report.
According to Jason Chaffetz, only the IG and his staff have seen the entire final report, along with the attorney general, deputy attorney general and FBI director, who were each given copies. Cooperating witnesses have seen segments that apply to them. Chaffetz also said the IG told him leaks would be inevitable.
And sure enough, a few leaks have happened, but they’re just general remarks on some of the glaring misconduct that we already knew about. I think it’s important to ask why, out of this 400- or 500-word report (depending on who is saying), these tidbits were the ones chosen for the early leaking.
According to a source cited by ABC News, former Director James Comey’s conduct was called “insubordinate”? Get me my smelling salts! Loretta Lynch’s suggestion of the word “matter” instead of “investigation” was questioned? OMG!
Now, class: What are leaks to major news outlets typically designed to do? Let’s say it together: Preserve the Obama legacy and damage Trump. Now, how does the use of the distinctive word “insubordinate” help preserve the Obama legacy? Anyone?
It’s easy. To be “insubordinate” is to violate the orders of those having higher rank. In Comey’s case, that would include Attorney General Loretta Lynch and, more significantly, President Obama. To say Comey’s behavior was insubordination not only communicates that he was wrong, but that President Obama was NOT wrong. It takes the blame off the Obama White House and places it squarely on him. Thus, it’s the perfect thing to leak.
Why should we assume that Comey was acting entirely on his own? It seems much more likely that he was doing exactly what was desired of him to keep Hillary viable as she coasted to her inevitable victory. Yet that word stands out as an attempt to make us go against our instincts and accept the idea of Comey “going rogue.” My intent is not to criticize the report --- we still haven’t seen the report --- but only to consider this particular leak in the context of its likely motivation.
Comments made by Comey while on his book tour make it clear that he considers himself to be an intensely moral man, quite possibly the most virtuous man who has ever trod the earth. (He has said he considers Trump to be morally unfit to be President). And he said he believes in “the chain of command.” Now, class: How does someone who behaves according to his principles and believes in the chain of command commit acts of insubordination? Answer: He doesn’t. Whatever he’s doing has come down from the top.
That’s why I suspect that Comey followed orders that came straight down from Obama, through “the chain of command” to him. Certainly the specific wording in Comey’s statement to protect Hillary from criminal charges in the summer of 2016 was part of that. Even the re-opening of the Hillary email case so close to the election could have been a way to try to minimize the damage to Hillary (or her future Presidency) from her emails found on Anthony Weiner’s laptop, which we now know had come to the FBI’s attention weeks before.
Comey cited the infamous tarmac meeting between Lynch and Bill Clinton as a reason why he had to distance himself form her. Lynch had become a “weak link” in that chain of command. Certainly she should have recused herself from the Hillary investigation after that stunningly inappropriate meeting. If she had, then supervision of Comey would have fallen to her deputy, and Comey might have felt less inclined to act as prosecutor as well as investigator.
While doing TV interviews during his book tour, Comey offered variations of this statement made on “The Late Show” on CBS: “I can be useful by offering people a vision of what ethical leadership looks like.” (With late-night TV starved for good comedy, this was probably the most hilarious line heard in some time.) On the contrary, what we now know, even before the full IG report is made public, is that Trump was absolutely right to fire Comey. It’s easy to see –- even for those of us on the outside looking in –- how thoroughly messed-up and agenda-driven the Hillary investigation was. Somebody sure needed to provide some ethical leadership, and nobody did.