Since the relentless coverage of Hillary Clinton’s EMAILS! only mattered because it was the shared obsession of many media outlets, James Comey might share more responsibility for blowing up the country than any single person not involved in either campaign. EMAILS! is fundamentally a scandal of media misconduct, but Comey was the catalyst, and it’s entirely possible that absent his October surprise letter Hillary Clinton would have won the Electoral College. Comey actually made three related horrible mistakes that led us to a white nationalist authoritarian in the White House.
First, he failed to control the insubordinate FBI agents in the New York bureau who insisted on launching and persisting in frivolous investigations literally based on a “book” written by a wingnut hack that’s so shoddy even fanatical Clinton-haters passively-aggressively defending it have to concede that it did not offer any actual evidence. (Incidentally, that Henwood excerpt is an absolutely perfect embodiment of the Prime Directive of anti-Clinton coverage. 1. Aggressively hyped-up but suspiciously vague descriptions of a MAJOR CLINTON SCANDAL. 2. OK, we don’t have a “smoking gun,” but you need subpoena power for that. 3. Someone highly motivated to find one or both Clintons guilty armed with subpoena power investigates and finds bupkis. 4. “Hey, if Emmett Tyrell/Jeff Gerth/Newt Gingrich/Bob Barr/Jason Chaffetz/Trey Gowdy just opened up a box of dry ice there’s gotta be a fire somewhere!” Rise, repeat ad Trump. Whether from the right or the nominal left, the formula is the same.) This led eventually to the letter that probably put Trump in the White House.
Second, when announcing his decision to announce that the FBI had not found sufficient evidence to justify the prosecution of Hillary Clinton — something he deserves no more credit for than deciding not to arrest Clinton for the murder of Meridith Kercher — he engaged in grossly inappropriate and substantively inaccurate editorializing about Hillary Clinton’s DEEPLY TROUBLING email management practices. This legitimized and heightened the already grossly disproportionate amount of media coverage given to this utterly trivial issue, which helped to create a Both Sides Do It narrative that was crucial to get close enough to winning an election for the electoral system designed to curb democracy and protect the interests of slaveholders to misfire again.
And then, in his follow-up grotesque abuse of power, the latter that destroyed America. The “news” was that there were unread emails on a computer belonging to the estranged spouse of a Hillary Clinton aide there was no reason to suspect had any new evidence of any kind of misconduct by Hillary Clinton was presented in a way to allow the media to infer that there was a BOMBSHELL that would finally prove something (see the process of the Prime Directive of anti-Clinton coverage above.) The letter also plainly violated longstanding FBI procedures while perfectly illustrating why these rules are in place. The defense of Comey’s utterly indefensible conduct is that he “had no choice” because the New York agents were going to leak the news themselves. But it’s no defense. First, Comey created the problem to begin with. Second, the leaks might be inconvenient for him but tough shit — he made his bed. And third, I don’t think there’s any way that leaks from the New York bureau would have had remotely the impact on the election that Comey’s letter did. There’s a big difference between stuff leaking out piecemeal from anonymous Giuliani-affiliated goons and a letter from the director of the FBI, and while no coverage of EMAILS! is good or Clinton there’s no way the former would have gotten the same five-alarm, 24/7, entirely-slanted-against-Clinton coverage Comey’s letter did.
The answer to the question of (as one commenter put it) whether Comey is a self-serving chickenshit or a partisan hack is, of course, “both.” I agree that we was probably not willfully trying to the election in a “MUHAHAHAHAHA I will put Trump in the White House” sense. But at every stage he was always acted in a way that was hyper-sensitive to the interests of various anti-Clinton Republicans. And his explicit adherence to the rules when the interests of the Trump campaign was involved surely settles the question. He was looking out for #1, but he also consistently favored the interests of his party.
Assuming that Article XII of the Trump Constitution does not contain a prohibition on bills of attainder, my suggested remedy would be to strip Comey of his health insurance, reduce his salary to $20/hour (maximum 35 hours/week), and freeze his savings accounts until age 65 (or indefinitely if Ryan succeeds in privatizing Medicare.) If the health insurance of millions of people can be sacrificed because it’s expedient for Comey’s professional and partisan interests, surely he can pitch in too.