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Ash writes: "A lot of people are still really sore about James Comey blowing up Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Imagine that. And with each day that we endure the very stable genius-king, who never should had a prayer of being president to begin with, the ire of the subjects grows."

Former FBI director James B. Comey. (photo: Susan Walsh)
Former FBI director James B. Comey. (photo: Susan Walsh)

James (Dick Tracy) Comey, What Did You Expect?

By Marc Ash, Reader Supported News

20 April 18


lot of people are still really sore about James Comey blowing up Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Imagine that. And with each day that we endure the very stable genius-king, who never should have had a prayer of being president to begin with, the ire of the subjects grows.

To be fair to Hillary Clinton and everyone else whose sanity is being tested, Comey flat-out blew it. It was a blunder he should have known never to make, and his first clue ought to have been all the other high-ranking officials at the FBI imploring him not to do it.

It would, however, be a mistake to allow current events to obscure the better angels of Comey’s nature.

In the rush to honor the life of Grandma Barbara Bush, there is beckoning to forget or at least reinvent her son George W. Bush, the narcissistic, genocidal, anti-democratic enemy of the Constitution who rose to assume the presidency, likely without winning the presidential election.

George W. Bush’s transgressions, while a bit less theatrical than the current headache in the Oval Office, were better targeted, more thoroughly premeditated, significantly more lethal, and did far greater damage to the Constitution (thus far).

Detailing the full scope of Bush’s transgressions would, at the very least, be a novel-length undertaking. One incident, however, does give us valuable insight into the character of James Comey.

In 2004, James Comey was the Deputy Attorney General. His boss then, Attorney General John Ashcroft, had been hospitalized. A “severe case of pancreatitis” necessitated the removal of his gallbladder. A survivable operation, but nothing to be trifled with. During Ashcroft’s recovery from what doctors described as a successful procedure, there was, however, a complication — but one political, not medical in nature.

Facing widespread and growing opposition to his legally dubious warrantless eavesdropping program instituted in the aftermath of the attack of September 11, 2001, George W. Bush was scrambling for legal validation to continue the surveillance.

Ashcroft, the Attorney General, Comey, his deputy, and then-FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III were on record as opposing any form of warrantless surveillance as legally unjustifiable. A pitched battle was underway, out of public view, between Ashcroft, Comey, Mueller and White House officials over allowing the program to continue.

The conflict over the warrantless eavesdropping program came to a boil on the night of March 10, 2004, in Ashcroft’s hospital room. Bush, White House chief of staff Andrew Card and then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales had devised a plan to go to Ashcroft’s bedside in the hospital and attempt to persuade him to sign an authorization of the surveillance program on behalf of the Department of Justice as he lay recovering from surgery.

Comey caught wind of the plan and raced to the hospital to literally head-off Card and Gonzales, who were also en route, authorization documents in hand. Comey arrived first, but Card and Gonzales were undeterred. What ensued was a tense exchange that resulted in Card and Gonzales being rebuffed and retreating empty-handed.

In the days that followed, Ashcroft, Comey, Mueller and other DoJ officials threatened to resign if the warrantless eavesdropping program were allowed to continue. Bush reluctantly backed down and accepted court participation.

The contradiction obviously is that, as the documents Edward Snowden placed in the public record clearly illustrate, warrantless surveillance continued at a mind boggling pace.

Warrantless surveillance in the digital age has evolved into a bit of a hydra. There are a number of U.S. government entities capable of initiating such programs, often working in concert with a myriad of private companies. It’s not clear, however, that Comey in his capacity first as Deputy Attorney General or later as FBI Director authorized such programs. He appeared more likely to have opposed unwarranted surveillance.

While Comey seems to lack the political savvy required for the FBI directorship, he clearly believes that the rule of law matters and that it is his duty to uphold it, to this day. He sees an independent role for Justice Department officials as indispensable and strives to meet these expectations in the manner in which he conducts his affairs.

He is a man of infinitely greater personal integrity than Donald Trump, and can well be expected to prove that in the coming months.

Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, and is now founder and Editor of Reader Supported News.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+18 # Wise woman 2018-04-20 09:26
I'd like to believe that, Marc, but something in my gut questions Comeys honesty. I'm not comparing him to our vacuous liar in chief, but like most people, Comey is out to cover his ass. The Hiliary issue will continue to dog him for the rest of his life. If nothing more, it surely contributed to the outcome of the past election and will be remembered as such. That is something he can't lie or excuse his way out of.
+8 # Skeeziks 2018-04-20 10:19
I believe that it is no coincidence that both candidates for the Presidency in 2016 were not suitable for the job and that Mr. Comey saw that and with the information he had on hand on both, he decided to thwart one and looked to challenge and chase the other one out if elected.

I hope the plan will work out for 2020 and maybe both parties will, by that time ready to have good, smart and worthier candidates for us to vote on.

I guess we'll see if we can get people into office that deserve to be there....Starti ng in 2020.
-2 # Robbee 2018-04-20 13:37
[quote name="Skeeziks" thwart one and and chase the other one out if elected
- to what end? nonsense!
+17 # MindDoc 2018-04-20 13:57
Absolutely agree that it is an imperative to "get people into office that deserve to be there" - by their leadership skills and demonstrated work on behalf (ONLY) of "We the People - NOT because the dynasties and oligarchs/corpo rations think and bribe/support a given candidate's inclination to keep the status quo. (Or with Bannon/Trump in "control", blowing things up - all things Obama especially - and making things horrid for human people, great for "corporate people").

That said, I believe it is *crucial* that we elect "good, smart, and worthier candidates" - based on merit and (real) record + facts. BUT, IMHO it is *urgent* that candidates who will work for us and our Constitution are on the ballot just 7 months from now, in 2018. Not 2020. The entire picture can change for the vastly better, if all the Mitch McConnells and Nunes-types (rabid, blind partisan, on the take bigly) are shown the door. That is surely the House, which if "drained" of the corrupt and replaced with "by, of, and for the people" REPRESENTATIVES , will shatter Trumpty Dumpty's autocracy irreversibly, with immediate changes of course for things like environment, infrastructure, support for Puerto Rico & peoples of the world generally... and put some brakes on a "White House gone wild".

Sorry to take up this space in response to Skeeziks, but the notion of 'hoping for a better 2020' for me underscores our need to emphasize that there is an election in *2018* which can dramatically alter things.
+7 # Skeeziks 2018-04-20 19:57
Absolutely agree with starting this year looking for worthy candidates. I jumped the shark on that one.
+9 # lfeuille 2018-04-20 19:26
I agree that neither was qualified, but I don't think Comey would take it upon himself to rectify the situation. He just did what he thought was right at the time. What he thought was right wasn't necessarily right in reality, but I don't think he was trying to be a puppet master.

But Hillary did so much to blow up her own campaign that blaming Comey, the Russians, Wikileaks or anyone else for her loss is desperate blame shifting. It is ironic that the one valid factor that may have contributed is the one she never emphasized: Republican voter suppression.
0 # candida 2018-04-23 10:13
Quoting lfeuille:
But Hillary did so much to blow up her own campaign that blaming Comey, the Russians, Wikileaks or anyone else for her loss is desperate blame shifting. It is ironic that the one valid factor that may have contributed is the one she never emphasized: Republican voter suppression.

No doubt Hillary made mistakes, but this is an insidiously sexist argument. Her mistakes pale next to those of BOGUS whose were greater, more egregious and dangerous than the ones Trump made ("grabbing pussy," "Mexicans are rapists," voter suppression, collusion with Russia, and on and on and on). But, then, who really cares about sexual assault or racist extremism, especially when coming from a rich, white, right-wing male? He is excused from culpability, even from some on the so-called Left ("Hillary blew up her own campaign"...BS! !)! Folks like him can make 1000 mistakes to everyone else's one and still win (ok, maybe to Clinton's ten). Racism, sexism, homophobia, and classism on the Left and the Right blew up her campaign much more than anything she did on her own!

And Clinton HAS identified voter suppression as "one of five" major reasons she lost the election: That you've never read about it is another thing.
+6 # RLF 2018-04-21 06:03
if one wants to get a really bad candidate into office, it helps that they run against a really, really bad opponent. I think that is what was engineered.
0 # candida 2018-04-23 09:39
Quoting Skeeziks:
he decided to thwart one and looked to challenge and chase the other one out if elected.

WHile Comey lacked "the political savvy required for the FBI directorship," can't be as dumb as all that!!!
+35 # ahollman 2018-04-20 10:28
In sequence:
1) Republican gerrymandering of Congressional districts, based on the 2010 US Census, clearly gave some voters greater representation, and others less.

2) The Supreme Court's Citizens United decision further opened the floodgates of private money buying candidates and elections.

3) Democratic National Committee (DNC) rules regarding superdelegates made its presidential primary nomination process undemocratic.

4) The DNC, as personified by Donna Brazile and others, unethically tilted the primary against Sanders and in favor of Clinton.

5) James Comey announced the conclusion of an investigation about Hillary Clinton and her emails, clearing her of legal crimes, but criticizing her for her clearly willful purging of emails (public documents) from her private server, despite State Dept. prohibitions against that. It's debatable whether this damning with faint praise helped or hindered her campaign.

6) Shortly before the election, James Comey announced the reopening of an investigation of Clinton in light of new information, clearly damaging her reelection chances.

All of the aforementioned parties subverted our democratic electoral process. One can further argue that the DNC stole the Democratic nomination from Sanders, only to have Comey and others steal the election from Clinton, only to have a divided and gerrymandered electorate hand the Presidency to Trump.

All that, and we wonder about Russian influence?
+25 # Benign Observer 2018-04-20 11:24
Excellent post. And what has been done to correct or improve 'all that'? Absolutely nothing.
-7 # Robbee 2018-04-20 14:47
Quoting Benign Observer 2018-04-20 11:24:
Excellent post. And what has been done to correct or improve 'all that'? Absolutely nothing.

- comrade b o likes the putin stuff out?

also note that, thanks to many, challenges to gerrymandering are epidemic?

aside from claiming "what has been done to correct or improve 'all that'? Absolutely nothing", a saying robbee always calls a self-fulfilling prophesy! - comrade? to correct the problem, what does putin suggest?

finally, i stip that ahollman 2018-04-20 10:28 is an excellent post! - to correct #2, in particular i propose a fundamental change to campaign funding -

no matter how much you and i and the bottom 99% of us consumers contribute to bernie, who faithfully shares his donations among progressives, and to elizabeth, who shares her donations among dems, and among all dem candidates, note that WE CANNOT AFFORD, WE HAVE INSUFFICIENT FUNDS TO MATCH what corporations can withdraw from pocket change! - even before huge tax cuts, we simply can’t match!

WHEN WILL ANYONE? BERNIE? PROPOSE A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT THAT GUARANTEES THE RIGHT TO PUBLICLY FUND, ONLY, ALL FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL ELECTIONS? - if a small town is so broke it can afford only pencils? then candidates and UNPAID supporters can go door to door? NO ADS!

bernie and reich have connected all the dots? what's next? what if a billionaire's words carried no more weight than those of anyone else with a good idea? - I M A G I N E !
+6 # lfeuille 2018-04-20 19:34
The Dems. finally got around to fighting gerrymandering, but going through the courts are a really slow and frustrating as the guilty party is using tasked with correcting there own misdeeds and of course they don't. They just stall the process. In the current congress a legislative fix is not possible.

They haven't done anything about other forms of Republican election fixing. For the most part they still don't admit it exists. And they they haven't done anything about fixing the primary process.
+6 # RLF 2018-04-21 06:10
Welcome to our broken justice system that citizen think is so great until they try to use it and find it's only great for attorneys. Been there done that! Broken like the rest of the US system and unfixed because it works for a moneyed constituency!
+11 # Observer 47 2018-04-20 12:33
Absolutely OUTSTANDING post!! Your conclusion is priceless! BRAVO!
-9 # Robbee 2018-04-20 14:10
Quoting ahollman:
All that, and we wonder about Russian influence?

- yes, as we justifiably should!

this is "a fine kettle of fish!" - good outline of all but the serial wiki-leaking of hacked pedestal/dnc emails, putin troll farm trolling for votes and russian money-launderin g into repuke campaigns (nra) and coffers (dickhead and his campaign staff) - the final report is not out yet and to summarize what mueller knows so far would take at least another 1500 characters!

you left out that when comey first reported he termed hillary "EXTREMELY" negligent - the "negligent" was the investigative finding the "EXTREMELY" was a political opinion pandering to repuke draculas that had no business in a report by a supposedly independent government agency
+7 # RLF 2018-04-21 06:06
You forgot that the electoral college handed one N. Dakotan voter the same voting power as 230(Aprox.) NYers.
0 # candida 2018-04-23 09:57
Quoting ahollman:
In sequence:
1) Republican gerrymandering ...

2) Citizens United.

3) DNC rules regarding superdelegates.

4) DNC... tilted the primary...

5) and 6) James Comey announcements about investigation about Hillary Clinton and her emails...

I agree, nice post! I would add the various Republican campaigns of voter suppression in multiple states, including my own which experienced the highest reduction of voting sites removed (Democratic district, Republican controlled state and state registrar).
+19 # Wally Jasper 2018-04-20 11:01
The thing that most people ignore about Comey's revelation of damaging emails associated with Hillary's campaign is that simply revealing emails is a neutral action. What made them damaging to Hillary's campaign was the content of those emails. The campaign was furious that the emails were discovered and revealed, but that is because what the emails contained showed how unethical, corrupt and legally questionable the actions of Hillary's campaign and the DNC were. We, the American people about to vote for President of the USA, needed to have access to information that showed us the true character, motives and methods of the candidates running for office. So what got revealed was just a bit of truth about the more private HRC. All the leaks and revelations of these emails were in the public interest, regardless of whether the results were ones we wanted or not. And this is to James Comey's credit, regardless of what his motives were or whatever other political maneuverings were going on. We, the public, finally got a hint of the behind-the-scen es mechanics of Hillary's election machine. Likewise, the current investigations into Trump's nefarious activities are casting light into his myriad dark corners, which hopefully will serve to wake Americans up to the vileness of his whole administration.
-1 # Larry 2018-04-20 12:43
A neutral action? I would call it a premeditated, purposely harmful action with catastrophic and irreparable consequences for Clinton, the Democratic Party, and the United States of America. As a law enforcement officer, Comey’s job was to enforce the law; not to become a rogue whistle-blower alerting the nation to the DNC’s uneven—but not criminal--polit ical treatment of the Clinton and Sanders campaigns. His only legitimate concern was whether the Clinton and/or her campaign violated federal law by using a private email platform for official government business. That being the case, his dramatic reveal of a second “trove” of emails, not following the election and a thorough review of their contents, but rather just days before the election, not even knowing whether they were illegal (turns out they weren’t), and in clear violation of longstanding FBI policy, was anything but neutral. Comey’s PR-bomb in fact blew the election to a madman. So, the price we, our progeny, and our country pay for Comey’s maliciously timed “neutral” disclosure, is Donald Trump. But on the bright side, now we know all about the DNC.

How’s that workin’ out for ya?
+4 # ericlipps 2018-04-20 14:59
No. Revealing emails selectively, with neither context nor asurance that they are unaltered, is not "neutral."

That's the problem I have with WikiLeaks' role as a conduit for Democratic emails someohow (cough, cough) acquired by the Russians, who are known to have preferred Trump. Julian Assange was known to hate HRC with a visceral fury, and appears to have abandoned objectivity in this matter in his zeal to make her look bad. We'll probably never know whether what Putin's people fed Assange was the real deal or doctored, but Assange may not even have cared.
+2 # librarian1984 2018-04-20 21:54
No one, including the DNC, has ever disputed the authenticity of any of Wikileaks' material. Assange has a better record than the NYT.

It's irrelevant who released what or why, or at least it's a lot less important than the content, which the msm won't cover.

They're fascinating. One can actually see the campaign decisions to attack Trump on Russia because internal polling showed Russia was HER weak spot.

The campaign asked 'friendly' journalists to prop up Trump and Cruz because they thought she had a better chance against those two.

Podesta, and others, frequently criticized Hillary's instincts and decision making. They were upset she didn't deal with the email server when it first cropped up back in 2015, but admitted that making apologies was her Achilles heel.

You can watch Robby Mook make one boneheaded decision after another. There's even an instance of them debating whether or not to accept donations from FOREIGN lobbyists, which Mook and Palmieri were all for, and there's some grudging respect for Sanders as well as ideas on how to kneecap him.
+4 # Texas Aggie 2018-04-20 15:44
What exactly did the emails that engendered Comey's statement reveal?
0 # librarian1984 2018-04-20 12:00
Morning Joe's been so much better with Joe and Mika gone! Today they had a very interesting discussion about Comey, his book and memos.

Josh Earnest, O's press secretary, said Comey's willingness to inject himself into the story hurt his by-the-book image.

Willy Geist said Comey wanted to position himself to be a hero of the Resistance but Democrats still don't forgive him.

Ben Smith, editor-in-chief at Buzzfeed, said Comey had been sullied because that is what happens to people who get close to the political Machine.

John Heileman (sp?) said Comey thought he could make the case for why he'd screwed over Clinton but that didn't happen. Also that Comey has very high self-regard.

Smith said Obama had also 'gone easy' on Putin about the hacking as Earnest's face lit up. 'We weren't as effective as we'd hoped but we didn't go easy!'

Matt Miller, NYT, was quite interesting. He said that normally positions like the Deputy AG or FBI Director are necessarily circumspect in their speech, that because they are limited in what they can and do say their words have extra credibility but that Comey the book seller, more wordy and less cautious, does not carry that same weight.

He said Democrats, including him, were ready to hear an explanation for why he did what he did, but he doesn't feel he got it. He said Comey has credibility *relative to the other players* in the mix, but he often seems to feel he's the ONLY person of integrity.
+5 # Kootenay Coyote 2018-04-20 12:07
‘[Comey] is a man of infinitely greater personal integrity than Donald Trump….’ While I am in no way convinced this is so; Trump’s ‘personal integrity’ is certainly a very meagre, even sub-microscopic attribute: it’s difficult to find anything smaller.
+1 # janie1893 2018-04-20 14:18
Comey is probably truthful in all he states in the book. However, his'what a good boy am I'
affect in his recent TV interviews cancels out my empathy for him.
+4 # intheEPZ 2018-04-20 14:23
I agree that Bush/Cheney were rabid, greedy enemies of the Constitution and should have been prosecuted for war crimes. But I don't think Comey deserves to be let off the hook for torpedo-ing Clinton, while failing to mention the concomitant investigation of Trump. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if the public knew BOTH candidates in 2016 were under FBI investigation. Unconscious bias? Hubris? What's Comey's game? The transcripts of Comey's memos of his 1 on 1 meetings with Trump call into question what he has said in interviews about his discomfort with private conversations with Trump. If he was uncomfortable, why did HE suggest them? In the memo dated 1/7/17 to McCabe and other FBI and DOJ officials he reported he had said that he had more to say but "should speak to the President alone or in a very small group". He left the choice of participants or NONE up to the Pres. He did not say that it was inappropriate for him speak to the President alone.
0 # boredlion 2018-04-22 19:24
"Inthe" - Comey's a long-time professional spook ! And a top-notch at his job (apparently), until his firing. Usually, official spooks don't speak so freely about their work. Mr. Comey, (despite his Quakerish, homely demeanor) is simply and quite obviously pissed at all the shenanigans of the present regime. He's been deeply harmed in his upright self-esteem - as a master spook! You connect the coordinates.
+5 # Moxa 2018-04-20 14:55
The blame game against Comey and the election of Donald Trump seems to take it for granted that Hillary's loss was some kind of catastrophe.

While it is clear that Trump is a disaster for this country, it is not clear that a Clinton presidency wouldn't have also been a disaster. In all honesty I can't say which would be worse. Of course they have different styles, but Clinton's might well be the more lethal. After the election I felt sorry Trump won, but glad Hillary lost. They are terrible in their own ways.

One thing I will say with more certainty: I believe the growing progressive urgency in this country would have been thwarted with a Clinton presidency. The "good enough", status quo neoliberalism of the Democratic party would remain intact and the smug corporatists who run the party would feel vindicated and safe. Unless they (along with the mass media who colluded with them) can pull another fast one against Bernie Sanders, there should be little to stop a Sanders presidency in 2020.
+6 # lfeuille 2018-04-20 20:10
Well, not all the political urgency occurring now isn't all progressive. A lot of it is just an effort to return to the pre-Trump status quo. I think the truly progressive activity can to attributed to Bernie, not Trump. And he wouldn't have gone away under Hillary. He lit a fire under the millenials that I don't think can be put out even if he weren't around to keep it going.
0 # candida 2018-04-23 10:24
Quoting Moxa:
While it is clear that Trump is a disaster for this country, it is not clear that a Clinton presidency wouldn't have also been a disaster. In all honesty I can't say which would be worse...

One thing I will say with more certainty: I believe the growing progressive urgency in this country would have been thwarted with a Clinton presidency.

You mean like the record number and size of neo-Nazi and white supremacist rallies, assaults, and other incidents that have taken place in the last year?

WoW! Where the hell do you live?! Certainly not in the U.S.! Oh, I get it! You must be an economically comfortable, white male.
-3 # Robbee 2018-04-20 18:46
Quoting Benign Observer 2018-03-15 19:24:
There are a hundred issues the Democrats could run on but they are going to run 'against Trump' and that's all

- b o looks at america from the wrong end of a russian telescope - to b o it looks like dems fight FOR nothing

in actuality, no candidate campaigns for nothing - not even the great putin, who could easily get away with it!

look b o! - here are a few dozen items dems campaign FOR -

chip, medicaid, medicare, social security, black lives, me too, equal pay, choice, immigrants, marijuana, lgbtq, quality free non-religious public ed thru high school, free college, single payer, family leave, a living minimum wage, EPA. CDC, science, Puerto Rico, free press, free market, free speech, bank regs, breathable air, drinkable water, no arctic drilling, save national parks, hike taxes on the rich (3x under barak), justices on scotus who would reverse “citizens united” for bmillionaires, gun safety measures, a prez who is not a dickhead, renewable fuel, so forth!
+5 # Coleen Rowley 2018-04-20 22:34
Many good comments here but Marc Ash left out a lot of Comey's track record including his other mistake of authorizing torture tactics. How did that highly illegal act fit with Comey's "Higher Loyalty?" See Actually it's possible to sympathize with any FBI Director that would find himself in the unprecedented, high pressure situation trying to straddle between investigating BOTH presidential campaigns for serious corruption in the weeks before an election. Comey thought for sure that Clinton would win so that explains his actions attempting to straddle both of these investigations. But it's really wrong to paint either he and/or Mueller as heroes with stellar integrity when anyone with any memory knows that simply is not true. Comey made millions going through revolving doors between public service and MIC.

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