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Let Us Celebrate the Fiercely Independent Nonpartisan Integrity of James Comey

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lb-8

Nobody could have etc.:

Perhaps Comey’s most surprising revelation was that Huma Abedin — Weiner’s wife and a top Clinton deputy — had made “a regular practice” of forwarding “hundreds and thousands” of Clinton messages to her husband, “some of which contain classified information.” Comey testified that Abedin had done this so that the disgraced former congressman could print them out for her boss. (Weiner’s laptop was seized after he came under criminal investigation for sex crimes, following a media report about his online relationship with a teenager.)

The New York Post plastered its story on the front page with a photo of an underwear-clad Weiner and the headline: “HARD COPY: Huma sent Weiner classified Hillary emails to print out.” The Daily News went with a similar front-page screamer: “HUMA ERROR: Sent classified emails to sext maniac Weiner.”


The problem: Much of what Comey said about this was inaccurate. Now the FBI is trying to figure out what to do about it.

FBI officials have privately acknowledged that Comey misstated what Abedin did and what the FBI investigators found. On Monday, the FBI was said to be preparing to correct the record by sending a letter to Congress later this week. But that plan now appears on hold, with the bureau undecided about what to do.

[…]

According to two sources familiar with the matter — including one in law enforcement — Abedin forwarded only a handful of Clinton emails to her husband for printing — not the “hundreds and thousands” cited by Comey. It does not appear Abedin made “a regular practice” of doing so. Other officials said it was likely that most of the emails got onto the computer as a result of backups of her Blackberry.

It was not clear how many, if any, of the forwarded emails were among the 12 “classified” emails Comey said had been found on Weiner’s laptop. None of the messages carried classified markings at the time they were sent.

This isn’t an innocent mistake. This misstatement is clearly material to his decision to ignore the department’s norms and procedures and tamper with the election. I don’t know if Comey was consciously trying to hurt Clinton’s electoral chances. But it’s now pretty much undeniable that his belief that Crooked Hillary was getting away with serious misconduct was part of what motivated both the Oct. 28 letter and his equally prejudicial and inappropriate editorializing in July.

I mean, really. Comey is an affluent Republican white guy in his mid-fifties who works in law enforcement, so right off the bat the chances he preferred Trump to Clinton are roughly 99% even if he didn’t like either of them. And he’s not just any Republican, but one who’s been part of the Clinton Wars since Whitewater. The idea that this is irrelevant to his highly unusual conduct is about as credible as the belief that Supreme Court justices are apolitical technicians just calling balls and strikes. Whether he was conscious of his partsianship is beside the point — I’m sure Antonin Scalia really convinced himself that the 14th Amendment required him to stop the recounts too. Whether his actions changed the result of the election or not, he engaged in much more serious misconduct than Hillary Clinton ever has.

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  • Dilan Esper

    On the other hand, Nate Cohn found a pretty serious flaw with the arguments about the Comey letter’s effect on the poll numbers in October:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/08/upshot/a-2016-review-theres-reason-to-be-skeptical-of-a-comey-effect.html

    • kped

      Nate Silver replied on Twitter already

      https://twitter.com/NateSilver538/status/861630917504376835

      • Scott Lemieux

        And, also, as Nate C. conceded in his conclusion, the extremely unusual media coverage would be a good reason to suspect Comey swung the election even if there was no polling evidence — and the polls did shift. Cohn makes a good case for a small Comey effect, but not that it wasn’t even worth a point.

        • kped

          And that small effect, which Silver leans towards, is still enough to swing those 3 important states.

          I think it’s absurd to think the entire media coverage didn’t have an effect. I still hear people in daily life (ie, not twitter) saying “yeah, but Hillary was a crook”. And that is all due to media coverage. That shit mattered. All the “smoke” stories with no fire add up.

        • UnderTheSun

          A bit of disinformation from Sputnik for you – the White House has announced that Trump has sacked Comey.

    • liberal

      The claim that Comey made the difference is certainly plausible. But that it’s irrefutable is laughable—it’s confounded in time by other possible drivers.

      • Ithaqua

        There were no other visible drivers at that time. So unless you are saying “it’s confounded by the possibility that big changes occurred in the electorate’s view very quickly for no apparent reason at just that time”…

        • Dilan Esper

          No, how about “Polls are not elections, and voters sometimes use them to express temporary feelings that do not drive voting behavior. The Comey letter came at the exact time the polls were regressing to the mean anyway as the election drew near. Prior polls predicted something that was never going to occur-large numbers of loyal Republican voters refusing to vote for their nominee and putting Hillary in the White House. This occurred because Trump had done some outrageous things that offended even some Republicans, and they were using pollsters to express disapproval”.

    • Alex.S

      My basic argument — if Comey didn’t impact the election, then “nothing matters”. Comey’s letter was the biggest story in the last week of the election — if a story that large and sustained can’t move the polls by one point, then there’s very little point in covering elections at all.

      • xq

        The economy matters. Unpopular wars matter. Katrina probably mattered. ACA mattered. If the GOP passes their healthcare bill, it will almost certainly matter. But, yes, voters are quite resistant to media-created scandal of the week. That’s a good thing.

        • TopsyJane

          If the GOP passes their healthcare bill, it will almost certainly matter. But, yes, voters are quite resistant to media-created scandal of the week. That’s a good thing.

          I like “almost certainly.”

          Actually, voters tend to have short memories and be very interested in the media-created scandals of the week, so if the GOP pass their hideous bill in whatever form quickly enough, those memories could well fade before the real pain kicks in. However, the INVESTIGATION REOPENED story was all over the airwaves for days. Of course, it mattered.

          • xq

            Are you saying that based on actual evidence or your intuition?

            The evidence that ACA cost Democratic House members in competitive districts seems strong. Silver, summarizing an academic study, says 13-15 point effect for an ACA vote. AHCA is even less popular.

            Meanwhile, with the Comey stuff, we’re arguing about whether maybe it was a couple of points? And many experts, like Cohn, doubt even that. Also see all the articles on nonresponse bias that I’d link if I could put more than one link in a post.

            • I’d like to believe the parallel between ACA and AHCA, but the former was a vote to adopt legislation and the latter just one step towards whatever finally gets adopted if anything. It was disgusting, but it will be the last vote that counts.

              • xq

                Yeah. It’s hard to believe that anything the Republicans pass will be popular, though.

        • Alex.S

          But, yes, voters are quite resistant to media-created scandal of the week.

          Part of the “Comey effect” argument is that there’s evidence of a 2-point drop for Clinton following Comey’s press conference.

          • xq

            There’s good reason to believe 538 exaggerates the effects of news events due to differential nonresponse bias.

            • Ithaqua

              Lots of other analysts have found the same or larger effects in the survey data.

              • xq

                Read the link. The problem isn’t specific to 538.

        • Scott Lemieux

          ut, yes, voters are quite resistant to media-created scandal of the week

          But this is exactly what you’re refusing to grapple with. It wasn’t just a garden variety scandal du jour. It received extraordinary saturation coverage that was demonstrably hostile to Clinton, at a time when an unusually high number of voters were making up their minds. It’s pretty hard to believe that this had virtually no effect.

          • xq

            If two days of scandal coverage don’t change voter intention, why should four days? Doubling a tiny effect doesn’t make it not tiny. And there are probably diminishing returns.

            Besides, if you look at what the coverage actually consisted of, a lot of the reason this was covered so long was that Comey’s decision was so unusual–a lot of the coverage was more anti-Comey than anti-Clinton. I’m not saying it was good for Clinton. Any story that puts “emails” and “Clinton” together is bad. But this should be taken into account. There was a lot of coverage, but it was not exceptionally hostile. And, unlike various Trump scandals, Democrats stood by Clinton the entire time.

            To me, the weak effect of the Access Hollywood tape is much more surprising–I actually thought that would end Trump’s campaign. Recall that a handful Republicans rescinded their endorsement after that came out, and Paul Ryan declined to campaign with Trump. I think it’s very hard to argue that the Access Hollywood tape was a smaller scandal than the Comey letter. Yet Doug Rivers at YouGov says it had no apparent effect after accounting for nonresponse bias.

    • LeeEsq

      The NYT and the rest of the media have an interest in discounting Comney’s letter because of their obsessive focus on EMAILZ.

      • Aaron Morrow

        Particularly because the latter allowed the former to happen.

      • xq

        Responding to reasonable technical arguments with accusations of acting in self-interest was stupid when done to Silver during the election and stupid here too.

        • Aaron Morrow

          Responding to reasonable technical arguments

          So LeeEsq can attack everyone at the NYT besides Cohn?

          • xq

            Yes? The NYT acted terribly this election. Upshot was pretty good though.

  • And right on time.

  • humanoid.panda

    I keep returning to a guy I know. A mid-level DOD employee in his mid to late 30s, a former moderate Republican, now independent. Voted Obama in 08, and Romney in 12. Didn’t talk to him about the election, but when I did in February, turned out that he voted for HRC, because Trump was just too insane, but with the greatest reluctance – and I had to hear a long recounting of the many ways in which HRC subverted our nation. Same guy liked Obama even though he didn’t vote for him the second time, was affectionate towards Sanders even though he thought he was a loon, voted for both Virginia Democratic Senators (having Kaine on ticket moved him from McMuffin to HRC).

    Thinking about that guy, hard to avoid the conclusion that the major mistake I made during the election was to misjudge the insane animosity towards HRC beyond and above the regular level of partisan polarization – an to think that to the extent HRC was a weak candidate, this insane hatred is the reason why.

    • Rob in CT

      Yup.

      Question is, how much of that is specific to Hillary, versus any Dem woman?

      • ExpatJK

        I’d say a lot of it is Hillary-specific. There’s tons of Clinton hatred, and Hillary hatred in particular.

        I think there will be a baseline level of misogyny and Dems=evil libruls hatred that a Dem woman candidate will have to overcome. It’ll be a challenge, but less of a challenge than overcoming all that + Hillary-hate.

        • ASV

          The only way that Hillary differs from any major Dem on this score is prominence and time. There were no Obama conspiracy theories in late 2007, whereas Hillary had been in the crosshairs for 23 years by the time the POP3Penny Opera began. The eyes of the beast are turning toward Gillibrand now.

          • farin

            And the breadth of believe in the conspiracies — the new nonsense conspiracy about Gillibrand/Harris/Warren won’t have eager believers in, for example, literally every employee of the NYT.

            • TopsyJane

              Two women have reached the pinnacle of power in the Democratic Party – HRC as the first woman to lead a national ticket and the party and Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. Both targeted for demonization by the GOP successfully. I doubt this is a coincidence.

              • farin

                Pelosi still gets nothing like the ludicrous reaction Hillary does. The Times was running front-page hit pieces on her immediately after Bill took office, which is totally nuts treatment of a brand-new first lady. Or: Pelosi is vilified as an awful woman but Hillary’s a literal supervillain.
                I’d expect any Democratic woman to be treated like Pelosi, but probably not like Hillary.

        • searcher

          I’m not sure I would say it is Hillary specific so much as Hillary as the archetype of what they hate.

          When I picture in my head the middle-aged woman-hater who listens to a lot of talk radio and is well into his second divorce, I know that when *he* pictures a “feminazi”, or whatever the hip modern slangonology is, he’s picturing Hillary Clinton, because she was his first, the first woman he hated from afar. He may have gone on to hate other women since then, all women, but you never forget your first.

          But I don’t think the hatred that these guys have for Hillary Clinton is distinct from the hatred they have for any other woman.

      • ChrisS

        Lots of hate for any dem, especially women and minorities.

        I was at an event last weekend that typically has a few people of all political stripes, but mostly right of center. The Trump-ites were complaining about Clinton, Pelosi, and liberal protestors. None of them were ooh-ing and ahh-ing over Trump’s accomplishments.

        Mostly, they just wanted to rehash the last eight years and complain that the world is going to hell because of democrats.

        • humanoid.panda

          Lots of hate for any dem, especially women and minorities.

          I was at an event last weekend that typically has a few people of all political stripes, but mostly right of center. The Trump-ites were complaining about Clinton, Pelosi, and liberal protestors. None of them were ooh-ing and ahh-ing over Trump’s accomplishments

          Which is why no Dem had ever won an election…

          Look, no one denies that there is a lot of hatreds as Dems qua dems. But Hillary hatred is unique in that it went far beyond the usual suspects,and engulfed people who liked Obama.

      • eclare

        I don’t think those two things can be separated out. There’s a close to 100% chance that any Dem woman who has as high a profile (specifically in terms of presidential aspirations) for as long a period of time would eventually be subject to the same kind of derangement syndrome.

        • SNF

          Key question is how much that long period of time matters. If Democrats nominate another woman in 2020, it’s unlikely that she’ll have been a huge national political figure for decades. That could make the difference.

          • eclare

            Agreed, although that won’t stop them from trying the second a woman starts to gain some national attention. See Lemieux’s post on Gillibrand below as Exhibit A.

          • Not unlikely, impossible.

        • Brien Jackson

          OTOH, Pelosi really hasn’t been subjected to nearly anything like the treatment Hillary got. Sure the usual nutters and pink bunnies hate her, but any Democratic House leader is going to get that, even if it’s expressed in gendered terms quite often. But there hasn’t been a relentless torrent of bullshit investigations, certainly no media frothing to prove that she’s guilty of SOMETHING criminal just like they knew all along, and none of the “questions raised” bullshit that gets written even as reporters find that there’s nothing inappropriate going on, etc.

      • humanoid.panda

        Question is, how much of that is specific to Hillary, versus any Dem woman?

        Hard to answer this question without a larger sample size, but on the face of it, hard for me to believe that animosity towards any Democratic woman beats animosity towards black guy with middle name Hussein.

      • Colleen

        But I think any Dem woman would be turned into “Hillary” immediately upon getting enough power to be serious. EX: the recent Gillibrand take down. How any time Clair Mccaskill gets on the national stage everyone drags up any semi-conservative thing she has ever done in order to stay elected in Missouri.

        • humanoid.panda

          Well, yes, but Booker is getting a similar treatment, while these people by and large like Warren.

    • liberal

      …the major mistake I made during the election was to misjudge the insane animosity towards HRC beyond and above the regular level of partisan polarization…

      Not that you should have known, but it’s been apparent since the 1990s

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        on the right, sure. It wasn’t until 2007-8 that I came to understand Clinton Derangement Syndrome was a bipartisan thing (I thought it was mostly Joe Lieberman), when internet liberals were all squeally about John Edwards, who always seemed kind of iffy to me *before* he got caught with his pants down. Then, when it became obvious Edwards was a non-starter, they all trooped over to get behind Obama- not because he was running to Clinton’s left, as Edwards had been- but mainly because he wasn’t her (and as time goes by “he wasn’t her” takes on broader and deeper significance)

        aaand of course somewhere in about mid 2009 a good chunk of those same internet liberals started complaining about Obama for not being what he never said he was

        I don’t know. I have had lower expectations that a conservative could adapt and learn and be willing/able to compromise, I guess

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          (I should also say “internet liberals” is a kind of catch-all phrase I’ve used in my head for a long time and not some kind of intentional snottiness toward you personally)

        • Dilan Esper

          The problem with blaming that on misogyny is Obama is actually both a far smarter person and a far better politician than Hillary. He also had better policy positions, especially on foreign policy.

          And Obama is far more honest and ethical too.

          In other words, there are very good reasons to prefer Obama to her, which had zero to do with her gender. If the media did this, they were right.

          • Brien Jackson

            This gets complicated if your first choice was Edwards, though.

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              once I realized Dilan isn’t exactly the definition of an ethical commenter his problems with reading comprehension became a lot more understandable to me

    • ploeg

      You have different classes of Hillary hate. Those in First Class hated Hillary ever since she killed Vince Foster. Those in Second Class are simply not disposed to like mainstream Democratic politicians (with a special endorsement for those who have a particular distaste for female Democratic politicians).

      And then you have those who were actually disposed to approve of Hillary Clinton in 2012. It’s funny to recall that Clinton had a net +26% approval rating at the beginning of 2012 (even greater than what the current Most Popular Politician in America has right now). That’s what endless congressional investigations without a point will do for you.

  • liberal

    And he’s not just any Republican, but one who’s been part of the Clinton Wars since Whitewater.

    Remind me…who was the genius who appointed this guy in the first place?

    • SatanicPanic

      Oh FFS

    • Rob in CT

      Why would anyone here need such a reminder?

      Has anyone here ever disagreed that Obama fucked up by appointing Comey?

      • sibusisodan

        I know this is probably very specialised knowledge, but I’ve not seen ideas on who should have been appointed.

        I wonder if the problem lies more deeply in the lack of D candidates who would be acceptable to the FBI. But I’m pretty ignorant about the whole thing.

        • Anybody not Republican would have done the trick.

        • so-in-so

          This would seem to be a problem, since the “FBI NY office leaks info the Democratic director tried to suppress” would also have been one hell of a headline in the week before the election.

          Also, didn’t President Obama’s appointment to head Border Patrol come close to being run-out by the rank and file officers for not being sufficiently Fascist?

        • N__B

          I know this is probably very specialised knowledge, but I’ve not seen ideas on who should have been appointed.

          Zombie Elliott Ness as portrayed by Zombie Kevin Costner.

      • Bloix

        It’s not “Obama fucked up by appointing Comey.” It’s “Obama was criminally delusional in his belief that he could ‘reach out’ to Republicans in Congress by filling his administration with people loyal to a party whose declared goal was to destroy the Democratic party.”
        Obama never understood that the Republicans are the enemy. He brought a nerf bat to a knife fight.
        But hey! Green lantern!

        • Scott Lemieux

          But hey! Green lantern!

          Yes, the zero people here who think the president has no power over appointments have been proven wrong! And you’re certainly the first person here to have ever considered the possibility that is was a bad appointment. Well done!

          • Q.E.Dumbass

            At least Bloix doesn’t straight-up lie about the frequency of “Appointing Comey was a stupid idea” posts, after contradictory evidence has been directed to him, repeatedly.

            • Scott Lemieux

              If there is anything you can say about this blog, it’s that there’s been too little criticism of James Comey, because we write exclusively about Freddie deBoer.

              • Bloix

                Yes, you said Comey was a horrible choice. But who chose him and why? Was it a brain freeze? Or was it part of a deliberate, reckless, dangerous, and stupid policy?

                • Q.E.Dumbass

                  I believe Brien provides something of a general “why” — Obama’s appointing Republicans to important positions was a stupid idea, but didn’t prove to be disastrous enough to scare him off from doing the same with Comey. Though as to why Comey, specifically…likely a VSP brainfart.

                • Bloix

                  PS- Rod Rosenstein is only the latest example of the fact that no Republican can be trusted to put country over party. Not ever. Obama’s refusal to understand this may well lead to the destruction of democracy in America.

    • SNF

      You could make a good argument that picking Comey was the single biggest mistake Obama made in his entire presidency.

      • Bloix

        The biggest mistake Obama made was that he tried to turn the Democrats into a centrist big-tent party that would co-opt the commanding heights of the economy for decades to come. He thought that if he just “reached out” enough he could do deals with congressional Republicans that would turn moderate Republican voters into Democrats. That is why he appointed Comey and Bernanke and Gates and Hagel and Petraeus and all the others. It was always a stupid and horribly dangerous plan and it always had the seeds of catastrophe. We came within a hair’s breadth of avoiding one, but we didn’t.

        • Brien Jackson

          Erm, once you get past Comey those Republicans of varying degrees basically lined up with the administration’s positions and didn’t do any harm to the Democratic Party or Obama’s goals. We can argue that it was bad politics to put Republicans there if we want, but as a matter of policy and outcomes it was nothing like putting Comey at the FBI.

          • Bloix

            So you scatter half a dozen hand grenades under the bushes at the Easter egg hunt, and one child blows everyone into a red mess of meat. Okay, that one grenade was a bad idea, but the other five didn’t cause any harm!

  • rlc

    Can someone explain to me why Obama nominated Comey. I had not known about his role within Clinton Derangement Syndrome until recently. But surely Obama’s people knew about that.

    I’ve harped on Dem IT problems as unnecessary own goals, but damn, this looks in retrospect like a much worse one.

    • eclare
      • rlc

        I knew about that, but… Gonzales is/was a complete creep, so not implausible that Comey was protecting “his” people within the overall Republican faction.

        But when he was given the opportunity to ratfuck Democrats and *especially* the Clintons, he did it. Case closed? WTF was Obama’s people thinking? Hillary Clinton had no possible role to play in the future?

        I am having a hard time understanding the thinking. I know I would make many many mistakes were I in their shoes, but I wouldn’t have made the IT ones (which should have been immaterial), and I sure as hell wouldn’t have made the Comey appointment, or any of the other R ones.

        Can’t anybody on our side play this game?

        • Bill Murray

          Comey also signed off on this a couple of weeks later after all the i’s had been dotted and t’s crossed

      • Denverite

        Lots of Law School alums in that parable.

    • SNF

      Democrats think that they need to appoint Republicans to “tough guy” jobs like running the FBI.

  • ExpatJK

    This part in particular seems relevant

    During his testimony, Comey said that part of the reason for revealing the existence of the messages was that some appeared to fill an eight-week gap in records from early in Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State. Comey said the FBI viewed them as “the golden missing emails that would change this case” because they might provide insights into Clinton’s intent when she set up her private server.

    Wasn’t the investigation/case supposed to be closed by this point?

    • David Hunt

      This is The Clinton Rules translated into a law enforcement setting. She was obviously guilty. The total lack of any evidence of her guilt after becoming the most investigated politician alive was just proof that she was a mastermind of Moriaty-level accomplishment. But this new batch of emails was going to be the SMOKING GUN that would bring her down after she got away from him and Ken Starr!

      • rea

        The total lack of any evidence of her guilt . . .

        And of course, the great unanswered question–guilty of what?

      • so-in-so

        Honestly, isn’t this the rule for a LOT of law enforcement? “We investigated, found nothing. Okay, then look for SOMETHING ELSE, nobody is too clean to get if you are creative”.

    • JustRuss

      Wasn’t the investigation/case supposed to be closed by this point?

      Sure, but it could be re-opened…if there’s new evidence. As opposed to “Hey we found something that might be evidence so let’s make sure it gets plastered all over the front page of the NYT before we actually know jack squat about it”.

  • John Revolta

    Would somebody clue me in on the Matthew Broderick reference? KTHXBYE

    • LeeEsq

      Its from a movie where he plays a high school teacher who interferes in the outcome of school presidential election.

      • sigaba

        A high school election where:

        * The actual winner is an overacheiving blonde young woman who Brodderick’s character finds personally aggravating.

        * He also believes she’s a sociopath who manipulates men and ruins their careers. He’s also convinced she’s behind several irregularities that he can’t prove.

        * He interferes with the election in order to secure the win of an affable doofus.

        • LeeEsq

          I didn’t want to include too many spoilers.

          • sigaba

            It’s a twenty year-old movie, Alexander Payne did a seminar on it when I was an undergrad.

            * Also Rosebud is Charles Foster Kane’s sled.
            * Maude dies.
            * The islanders burn Christopher Lee to death in a wooden effigy as part of a pagan ritual.

            • Lost Left Coaster

              The islanders burn Christopher Lee to death in a wooden effigy as part of a pagan ritual

              They damn near sing him to death first.

              • sigaba

                At least Nick Cage fought back, just ask Leelee Sobieski.

            • keta

              * Also Rosebud is Charles Foster Kane’s sled.

              Is it? I’ve always preferred Gore Vidal’s flowery explication.

            • Hogan

              That was Edward Woodward.

              • rea

                Edward Woodward was Charles Foster Kane’s sled?

                • jim, some guy in iowa

                  you guys are spoiling *everything* :(

              • N__B

                I lost track of him after he left Traffic.

            • erick

              Gotta jump in here because that is wrong in a big way.

              They burn Edward Woodward to death. Christopher Lee is leading them.

              If your gonna spoil a 45 year old movie spoil it right:-)

            • MyNameIsZweig

              Christopher Lee

              Edward Woodward.

        • Nick056

          Alternatively, it’s a movie where the actual winner is an angry closeted lesbian disqualified by the school administration for nihilism generally and tearing down election posters specifically, an act of misconduct the blonde young woman commits and then conceals. Or it’s a movie where the friendly but vaguely entitled jock would have won except he decided to vote for his own opponent, such is his absurd lack of ambition.

          I get why Scott likes the image, but the movie’s entire point is that Broderick does cheat Witherspoon because he’s a repressed creep, but also that she manages to “win” the election despite being the least popular candidate by every measure, and also committing conduct that would have gotten her thrown out of the race if one of her opponents hadn’t taken the rap for perverse reasons.

      • Denverite

        … involving an (in the movie) annoying, know-it-all female candidate who everyone (read: Broderick’s character) “hates.”

    • John Revolta

      Gracias!

    • keta

      It’s a still from the movie comedy Comey Bologna.

      Mathew Broderick plays James “Jimbo” Comey, younger, dumber brother of Ace Ventura, pet detective. Comey is the head of a law enforcement agency looking into the wacky misadventures of the two combatants facing off in a national election. One candidate is an older woman, so naturally her lack of strength, questionable physical health and fading mental capacity gets her into all kinds of hilarious misunderstandings, especially with new-fangled technology. The male candidate is an older man, with a penis, and of course with his advanced age comes wisdom and far-ranging knowledge, including how best to harness foreign elements into an American campaign.

      The zany script is written by the same laugh-miners who penned most of the side-splitting Threes Company episodes. Variety says, “Everyone in America should catch this…the country will never be the same!”

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        seems like there ought to be mention of Barron, the mini-me child genius with the cyber who keeps the male candidate (who happens to be his father) on the straight and narrow

        • keta

          I believe he features more in the spin-off: Re-Election: Barron in the Trump House!

  • Bloix

    And the MOST LIBRUL PRESINET EVAR had no choice but to appoint a rock-ribbed Republican to be FBI Director – and Fed Chairman, and Sec’y of Defense (twice!), and Sec’ys of the Army and Air Force, and many other posts. Why? Because there’s no Red America and no Blue America, there’s only the UNITED STATES Of America.

    The scattering of unexploded bombs through the administration was Obama’s greatest unforced error. He coulda got lucky, but one went off and it’s got the potential to destroy democracy for a hundred years.

    • humanoid.panda

      This is such a new and original argument!

      • Scott Lemieux

        And he’s so proud of this BLISTERING INSIGHT nobody has ever thought of before he made it three times!

  • veleda_k

    Prof. Lemieux, this is interesting, and enraging, and well worth discussing, but I regret to inform you that you’re only allowed to write posts taking apart stupid Jacobin articles. Because you are a socialist hating meanie head. Who is mean.

    I don’t make the rules.

    • NYD3030

      I’m glad you can see where I’m coming from.

  • diogenes

    We know the R’s are going to ask doodley-squat of substance, but has a D asked Comey to compare/contrast his handling of Clinton/Trump investigations, and why one thing isn’t like the other?

    I mean, if it was all important for us to know about his Clinton investigation, doesn’t that make the case for we needed to know about his Trump investigation?

    Sidebar to Sen. Graham: If it is all important for us to know who leaked Flynn to WaPo, isn’t it just as important to know who leaked Clinton to Congress?

    And if you find the WaPo leak, will the punishment you recommend also apply to Chaffetz?

    • FlipYrWhig

      Yeah, I’d like to have him face this question too, because it seems like the obvious answer to the NY FBI office’s squawking. Comey could say “The moment I see any story about the investigation of Hillary Clinton surface in the media, I invite the media to cover our ongoing investigation of Donald Trump too, and devil take the hindmost.” And the fact that he did not say this, or express anything to suggest that it _ever occurred_ to him to say such a thing, is for me one of the smokingest of smoking guns about Comey’s malfeasance.

    • nemdam

      I’m pretty sure Feinstein did and Comey said Trump’s case was open so he can’t comment while Clinton’s was closed so he could. I’m too exhausted from this case to explain how this is nonsense, but it’s easy to figure.

  • Crusty

    “But it’s now pretty much undeniable that his belief that Crooked Hillary was getting away with serious misconduct was part of what motivated both the Oct. 28 letter and his equally prejudicial and inappropriate editorializing in July.”

    This is the key. He’s inclined to believe that Hillary and Huma are inclined to send hundreds and thousands of e-mails to Anthony to print out.

    As for the terrible dilemna he faced of conceal or interfere (or however he put it), you only come to the characterization of option 1 as concealing something if you think there is something there to conceal. Turns out there wasn’t. If you say nothing about nothing, you are not concealing anything. Now, in the assessment of the situation, if you think you have two equally bad options, its because you think there is a very high probability that Hillary Clinton has engaged in wrongdoing and some time shortly after the election you’re going to have to say yeah, we’re indicting her, sorry I couldn’t say anything earlier, but you know, protocol. On the other hand, if you’re not predisposed to think that, there isn’t actually a dilemna- your hand isn’t being forced.

    • Scott Lemieux

      As for the terrible dilemna he faced of conceal or interfere (or however he put it), you only come to the characterization of option 1 as concealing something if you think there is something there to conceal. Turns out there wasn’t. If you say nothing about nothing, you are not concealing anything.

      Precisely.

  • JustRuss

    … had made “a regular practice” of forwarding “hundreds and thousands” of Clinton messages to her husband… Comey testified that Abedin had done this so that the disgraced former congressman could print them out for her boss. (

    This doesn’t even make sense. Who prints out thousands of emails? Why? Comey’s pulling the same BS as when he announced that Clinton wouldn’t be prosecuted, massively exaggerating to cause maximum damage. This is not acceptable behavior for the director of the FBI. Or any halfway decent human.

    • Denverite

      Who prints out thousands of emails?

      To be Scrupulously Fair, I normally do print out attachments to emails if I’m going to spend any appreciable amount of time reviewing and editing them. I have one of those defective computer screens that intentionally conceals typos and awkward sentences when I review a doc, only for them to show up when I send it out to someone.

      • eclare

        But do you send thousands of them to your home computer to be printed?

        • Denverite

          If I’m working from home I do. I can’t print on my home printer from my virtual desktop.

          [ETA: But I rarely work from home like that. Too hard with kids and beer in the fridge. Hence why I’m usually at the office until 8:00 or so.]

      • JustRuss

        OK… And you send them to Huma who sends them to Weiner who prints them and couriers the hard copies back for your review? A few thousand times? I guess I could believe that if you’ll have the director of the FBI testify before congress. No, wait, not even then.

        • humanoid.panda

          If I get it right, there are thousands emails from Hillary that say “print this” to Huma.

          • rewenzo

            Yeah, I’ve heard that as well.

            FWIW, I think it’s a generational thing. If they want to review the e-mails they print them out.

  • nemdam

    IMO, there were three possible explanations behind Comey’s actions.

    1) Incompetence
    2) Partisanship
    3) He was compromised

    I used to lean heavily on 3 only because 1 & 2 seemed so improbable (yes, I know how crazy that sounds). I now think it’s all of the above with 1 being the strongest factor. 3 doesn’t explain his latest statements. And 2 just doesn’t seem strong enough to knowingly help an adversarial nation and to make false statements under oath. (Then again, with the current Republican party, maybe not.) So there has to be a heavy dose of 1.

    The way I see this is that Comey saw EMAILS! as a way to burnish his reputation and solidify his legacy at the FBI. So he decided to ditch all normal procedure and essentially go rogue. In his mind, by giving his July press conference and releasing the letter against department policy, he would cement his brand as a nonpartisan, straight shooter by equally pissing off both sides. And besides, Clinton would win anyway, and she really needs to be held accountable, so really, what’s the harm? The problem is this all backfired; the letter caused way more damage than he thought possible, and now he is stuck defending the indefensible. So just like he has concocted a self-image that he is a straight shooter, he has also convinced himself that Clinton did something very wrong to justify his actions even if it means believing nonsense. Note that his partisanship makes this all easier to justify in his mind. I also still believe that the NY FBI field office was threatening leaks, and this fact further solidified his decision to release his letter.

    In summary, Comey is an incompetent idiot that tried to use EMAILS! as a way to boost his image. But he completely bungled the case, and his partisanship and his bureau threatening to leak contributed toward the decisions he made. I guess maybe the silver lining is that he will use Trump/Russia to repair his image, but if he is really this incompetent, he will probably mess that up too.

    • humanoid.panda

      There are mounds of studies on how unconscious bias affects LEOs and juries, even in the absence of any conscious intent to discriminate, and not skipping over people of color serving as LEOs or jurors. This sort of unconscious bias always seemed to me the most parsimonious explanation of Comey’s actions, and the exceedingly stupid step of spreading BS under oath without any political benefit to everyone last week definitely reinforces that theory.

      • CP

        I agree – this is what I think too, although I think “unconscious bias” in this case is the same as the “partisanship” option above.

        Put simply,

        1) The law enforcement community has spent the last few decades developing a virulent case of Liberal Derangement Syndrome.

        2) The Clinton scandal machine has spent twenty five years producing an insane amount of smoke.

        3) The Clintons are liberals.

        I don’t think it ever took anything more than that.

        (And to use an analogy I’ve made several times before: Comey’s reasoning in violating every norm of conduct before the election was the same as the reasoning of any beat cop who’s ever planted evidence or lied under oath because he “knew” the suspect was guilty).

    • efgoldman

      Comey didn’t “misspeak”
      Comey didn’t “misstate”
      Comey didn’t “make a mistake”
      Comey didn’t forget
      Comey didn’t falsify
      Comey didn’t exaggerate

      COMEY FUCKING LIED! In a reasonable world, with actual laws and consequences, he’d be out of a job and under indictment for perjury. As would at least five of this maladministration’s senior officials.
      This “correct the record” bullshit has got to stop.
      Party of personal responsibility my old wrinkled white ass.

      • David Hunt

        Well, you just got part of what you wanted. Comey’s gone.

      • efgoldman

        COMEY OUT!
        Like Mangi Mutant is just the guy to pick an effective leader with integritudiny.
        He'll probably appoint Yates.

        (Of course, Evil Leprechaun will actually be making the choice. Whoever he designates will need to leave his Kkklan robes in the closet at home.)

        • so-in-so

          Except on “casual Fridays”. Or any other day after the confirmation. Unless they just decide “screw it” and dare the rest of the Senate to turn down someone who comes in full Klan regalia.

  • NYD3030

    Can I just admit that I think Hillary lost both because of bad political strategy AND because of the Comey letter? My lib friends hate me for the first and my brocialist friends for the second.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      go for it. Thing to keep in mind is: only one of those two things will be a factor in 2020, unless Head Boy Scout Comey gets crossways with trump and/or Putin

      • humanoid.panda

        My own equally unpopular explanation that HRC ran as good campaign as one could expect, but the headwinds created by her own errors in 2012/3 (speeches, talking to lawyers rather than political consultants about how to respond the initial email revelations), malicoiusness (Comey/Putin), and plain bad luck (the pneumonia incident..), was just too much to overcome.

        Put otherwise: (mostly) for no fault of her own, she got to the finish line limping. She needed everything to break for her in the final two months, and most things didn’t.

        • eclare

          My thinking is that based on the information they had, her campaign strategy was good. Unfortunately a lot of that information was wrong, so the strategy, while sound in and of itself, was the wrong one. If that makes sense.

        • The media coverage of the pneumonia was just loathsome. The actual event was preceded by two weeks of “is Hillary dying? That’s crazy, right? But what if? Let’s ask Newt Gingrich” material. The campaign’s initial statement (that she had been dehydrated and was now recovering) was treated as an unspeakable coverup, even though the full details were released by her doctor several hours later. And her perfectly believable timeline (had been sniffly and wheezy for a few weeks, thought it was allergies, had felt poorly a few days earlier, was diagnosed with pneumonia, rested, felt better, turned out not to be quite better enough) was treated as an obvious tissue of lies too transparent to bother disproving.

          “Candidate collapses from stress & illness on campaign trail” is absolutely a story. But I don’t think any arbitrary candidate would have had said illness immediately fitted to a narrative of dishonesty and evasion.

          • humanoid.panda

            Right. It was a no win situation, and she just needed a bit of luck to get through it unscathed- and got terribly unlikely instead.

    • Gator90

      I thought the brocialist view was not that HRC lost due to bad political strategy (thus implying she would or could have won with better strategy) but rather that she was such an intrinsically horrible and unelectable candidate that the Dems basically committed suicide by nominating her instead of he-who-woulda-won.

      • NYD3030

        Most of the brocialist stuff I read and listen to comes down pretty firmly on the ‘bad strategy’ side of things – if she had run a more populist campaign and attacked Trump harder for being an obvious crook she would have won. And that Bernie would have done those things, therefore he would have won. I’m uncertain on that last point. I think it’s possible that he wins a closer election thanks to electoral geography but counterfactuals are notoriously hard to prove.

        • Gator90

          Ah, I see. I may have been confusing the brocialist view with the Greenwaldian view.

          Most of this type of analysis is above my pay grade, but with an election that close, it seems fundamentally implausible that the complete saturation of the media by a negative story about one candidate (which conveniently buried the most negative story about the other candidate) for the final 10 days of the campaign would not have had an outcome-determinative effect.

          But at the same time it seems entirely plausible that some better strategy (far be it from me to say which one) might have put her over the top, Comey notwithstanding, given the closeness of the election.

        • randy khan

          Personally, I think Bernie would have lost if he got nominated. He’s just the kind of guy who would have trouble handling Trump in debates, for instance. (Whatever anybody thinks of the rest of the campaign, Clinton very much had the better of Trump in the debates.)

      • CP

        but rather that she was such an intrinsically horrible and unelectable candidate that the Dems basically committed suicide by nominating her instead of he-who-woulda-won.

        Though it’s not until November 9th, 2016, that this view became widespread.

        Before that, the accepted view was that Hillary Clinton had it in the bag and was such a slam-dunk that it didn’t even matter how they voted, so the important thing was to “send a message” to the Democratic Party by staying home or voting third party in all the safe states.

  • Alex.S

    Is there any explanation for why it’s taken a week and FBI sources to reveal that Comey lied to the Senate?

    In the grand scheme of things (as in, his testimony and his actions), the truth is a non-issue. It does not radically change his testimony to say that he misspoke about what happened. I partially dismissed the story when it broke last night because it seemed insane for it to have happened, but apparently it’s accurate (no pushback from FBI and others have confirmed it).

    ——-

    In a previous occurrence, Comey has personally sent a letter to the Senate over the objections of the Department of Justice, lawyers assisting him, and FBI guidelines. It took him a day to make that decision and he did so without having a warrant to actually follow through on what the letter said.

    It’s a week in now, and still nothing.

    • farin

      It kinda radically changes it, doesn’t it? I mean, the difference between “hundreds and thousands” and “a few” and between “a regular practice” and “maybe a couple times” isn’t trivial.

      • Alex.S

        If the goal was to accuse Huma Abedin of wrongdoing, then yes.

        But if the goal was to show that the FBI was not a partisan organization working to attack Democrats, then not correcting the testimony until after the error is leaked represents a problem.

        Looking at it that way… then yes, I can see why Comey said what he said and why the FBI refused to correct the issue.

  • Alex.S

    BREAKING! as the kids might say.

    https://twitter.com/ThisWeekABC/status/862060470534119424

    FBI Director James Comey “has been terminated and removed from office,” Press Sec. Sean Spicer says in statement.

    • Malaclypse
      • free_fries_

        Either that or “Shah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Hey Hey…”

    • Murc

      AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

      Comey rigged an election for Trump and Trump just rewarded him by firing his ass!

      Oh man. Do you think Comey had a change of hard and was about to lower the boom on a whole lot of Trumpistas and so Sessions decided he had to go? Or is this just a fit of pique? Or a way to demonstrate independence?

      It’s hilarious no matter what tho.

      • Malaclypse

        Do you think Comey had a change of hard and was about to lower the boom on a whole lot of Trumpistas and so Sessions decided he had to go?

        If so, someone needs to get Comey immunity, well, now. And he needs to stay the hell away from windows in tall buildings.

        • Nobdy

          Who? Who is left to give him immunity?

          Trump is tightening his grip on power and who remains to oppose him?

      • Q.E.Dumbass

        Given that his whole shtick is “Clearly I’m the Last Honest Man in Washington because everybody hates me,” I expect him to land a CNN sinecure within an hour.

        What’s Comey’s woodchipper number, BTW?

      • Murc

        “The Director was wrong to usurp the Attorney General’s authority on July 5, 2016” and to hold presser, Rosenstein says.

        Oh my god, the line they’re taking is that they’re firing him because he was unfair to Hillary.

        That’s a lie. What’s their real reason, I wonder? This screams cover-up.

        • Peterr

          They gave three reasons:

          As you and I have discussed, however, I cannot defend the Director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken. Almost everyone agrees that the Director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.

          The Director was wrong to usurp the Attorney General’s authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution. It is not the function of the Director to make such an announcement. At most, the Director should have said the FBI had completed its investigation and presented its findings to federal prosecutors. The Director now defends his decision by asserting that he believed Attorney General Loretta had a conflict. But the FBI Director is never empowered to supplant federal prosecutors and assume command of the Justice Department. There is a well-established process for other officials to step in when a conflict requires the recusal of the Attorney General. On July 5, however, the Director announced his own conclusions about the nation’s most sensitive criminal investigation, without the authorization of duly appointed Justice Department leaders.

          Compounding the error, the Director ignored another longstanding principle: we do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation. . . .

          Full text of Rosenstein’s recommendation memo here.

        • No, the line continues “and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution.” Trump was just recently claiming that Comey had let Hillary get off scot free, and I wondered if Comey would be resigning soon. I think this is a “you’re not quitting, you’re fired” situation.

    • randy khan

      NY Times reporting that it was on the recommendation of Sessions.

      Every time I think I know how strange this Administration is, they surprise me. I mean, really, the Attorney General has recused himself from overseeing an investigation being run by the FBI, so you’d think he’d keep his hands off it, or at least make it hard to figure out what he’s doing.

      • Murc

        NY Times reporting that it was on the recommendation of Sessions.

        I believe this. Sessions is going to want Trump to appoint the second coming of J. Edgar Hoover, except not as sympathetic to black folks.

        • free_fries_

          I fear it’s going to be Sheriff Clarke

          • tsam

            Arpaio is unemployed, I hear.

        • keta

          Ivanka and Jared are busier than one-armed paper hangers, Junior and Ewik are running the family business, so it’s gonna’ be either Tiffany or Barron, and Barron’s apparently an ace with the cyber, so…

      • tsam

        Well, this follows his testimony to Congress–so it really doesn’t breach his recusal, at least by outward appearances.

    • twbb

      The most bizarre part seems to be that Trump’s defending Huma’s honor.

    • Alex.S

      Oh wow — straight up saying he was fired due to his July press conference.

      https://twitter.com/akarl_smith/status/862062661596479490

      • kped

        “I appreciate you informing me on 3 separate occasions that I am not under investigation”

        Lol, even in his official letter he is tweeting.

        • Alex.S

          Trump wants to affirm that it was a politically motivated firing, meanwhile the deputy AG was tasked to find a nonpartisan reason.

      • addicted44

        The irony.

        If you ever needed evidence that we are living in a simulation, and our simulators were getting really bored…

        • tsam

          This feels more like “last days of the Republic” sort of business. In my head, I’m looking at a blatantly incompetent president, and a few scuzbucket military generals hanging around and thinking they could just fix all of this and right some old wrongs…

  • Nick056

    Also: Black Lives Matter was central to the drama of the FBI going all
    in for Trump. The Ferguson Effect, Eric Garner, etc.

  • kayden

    Comey out. Trump just fired him.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      Thank goodness Trump has finally realized that he needs to purge the administration of Russian-enabling traitors!

  • Cassiodorus

    Trump just fired him. He’ll almost certainly appoint someone worse, but no one has more rightly deserved their fate.

    • Nobdy

      This is horrible. I feel no schadenfreude because it means that the whole law enforcement apparatus will be under active Trumpists. Nobody will be minding the store. Not that Comey was great but he was better than whatever hack will replace him.

  • nemdam

    HOLY SHIT TRUMP FIRED COMEY!

    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/09/trump-fires-fbi-director-james-comey-238175

    This screams cover-up as loud as anything he’s done. Given his past actions, his testimony about Huma’s emails does not warrant this.

    • Q.E.Dumbass

      The memo.

  • sigaba

    At what point would a conscientious person start questioning the legitimacy of this presidency?

    ETA- Let it me noted I submitted this before seeing the Comeydammerung.

    • Nobdy

      November 8, 2016

  • Thlayli

    Saturday Night Massacre, Tuesday Edition.

    • Murc

      (Nixon’s ghost, sipping bourbon): “Glorious.”

    • nemdam

      Goddamn, and I thought Nunes’s stunt was the Saturday Night Massacre, Wednesday afternoon edition. OF course, Trump takes everything to a new level.

  • kped

    Hey, at the very least, the memo from the deputy attorney general was bang on. “at most the director should have said they had completed their investigation and presented its findings to the attorney general”.

    Which is correct, that should have been the beginning and ending of the Comey affair. I mean…I know this is to put a Trump hack in, but can anyone argue with this line:

    “We do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined investigation”.

    That’s why he should have been fired, whether it is Trump or Obama doing the firing.

    • Alex.S

      Yes.

      But the default reaction (Comey was fired to cover something up!) also explains why Obama and Lynch were reluctant to reign him in by firing.

      If this was really the reason, he would have been fired shortly after Sessions was confirmed as Attorney General.

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