For a man accused of dishonesty by both the left and right, how odd it was to see James Comey speak constantly about truth, morality, and values during his much-ballyhooed interview with ABC News personality and former Clinton operative George Stephanopoulos Sunday evening.
On the eve of the release of his immodestly titled book, A Higher Loyalty, the former FBI Director frequently returned to the truth/morality/values theme. He declared President Trump “morally unfit” to hold the highest office in the land and concluded the interview with his assertion that “this president does not reflect the values of this country.”
In doing so, he betrayed the bubble wrap in which he enveloped himself inside the DC swamp, apparently not realizing he had just insulted, at a minimum, the 62 million people who pulled the lever for Donald Trump.
Absent his self-serving sanctimony, one might actually feel some sympathy for Comey. After all, he was handed a ticking time bomb with the Clinton email investigation in the midst of arguably the most divisive presidential campaign in American history and was put in a nearly impossible position when he discovered cause to re-open that investigation just days before the 2016 election, after which he said, “everybody hated me.”
But now that we know Comey has, among other things, uttered falsehoods under oath himself, leaked a memo which led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and signed off on the dubious application for a FISA warrant to conduct surveillance inside the Trump campaign, whatever remaining credibility accrued to Comey has evaporated. And yet, without a hint of self-awareness, the ABC interview reveals that Comey somehow believes people still trust him and take seriously his lamentations.
Hate from All Sides
Here is a man who has managed to achieve something rare: infuriating both the right – by overstepping his authority and refusing to indict Hillary Clinton despite his enumeration of multiple prosecutable offenses – and the left, by re-opening the Clinton investigation on the eve of the election. But while the right views him as little more than an embittered soul out for revenge on the man who fired him, the left has apparently moved on from blaming him for Hillary Clinton’s shocking defeat and now regard him as an ally in their never-ending quest to remove Trump from office.
Comey appeared as a man still desperately trying to process how his once-promising career ended not in a blaze of glory but in the dustbin of history. He repeatedly referred to his independence from Washington politics, and yet often referred to the 2016 election, admitting he was “operating in a world where Hillary Clinton was going to beat Donald Trump” and confessing his shock and dismay when Trump was victorious. We also learned that Comey’s wife Patrice and four daughters not only voted for Hillary but actually participated in the women’s march the day after Trump was inaugurated. But of course, being above politics, Comey did not let his leftist family influence any of his thinking or decisions.
Comey said that some of the salacious details in the infamous Russian Trump dossier “may” be true, that Trump “may” have engaged in obstruction of justice, and that the Russians “may” have something with which they could blackmail Trump, while offering zero proof, choosing instead to let those issues hang in the air. One wonders how a President – singular head of the executive branch of the federal government – could actually obstruct justice when he holds the constitutional authority to begin or end any investigation he chooses. Democrats may try to make the firing of Comey a political crime worthy of impeachment, but it is not an actual crime. You would think the former head of the nation’s top law enforcement agency would know that.
After Comey would not rule out Russian blackmail, Stephanopoulos finally betrayed his own obvious political loyalties near the end of the interview by declaring that it is “stunning” that a former head of the FBI “can’t be certain that the president is not compromised by the Russians.”
They say patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels. Comey has played that card to the hilt, while Trump, in his characteristically understated fashion, has labeled him “an untruthful slimeball.” The issue is whether anyone really cares anymore about Comey’s opinion.
In the end, this interview was the plaintiff cry of a beaten man desperately clinging to relevance. His power is gone, his reputation is irreversibly tarnished, and his career is in ruins. And when a week or two has passed after his vengeful book is released, no one will pay attention to James Comey anymore. And that is ultimately what eats away at a man whose descent from grace to disgrace will be chronicled by historians for generations to come.