When the history of the 2016 election campaign is being written, one man is going to have a lot to answer for. That man is FBI Director James Comey. With his reputation for straight-shooting non-partisanship, all-business demeanor and choir boy good looks, Comey has done more to salvage Hillary Clinton’s possible return to the White House than any man in American politics, including former President Clinton and President Barack Obama.
And former FBI supervisors, speaking on the record, are going public to make the case that the FBI director has squandered his reputation and sullied the bureau itself…and needs to go.
There’s no telling for now what behind-the-scenes pressures brought Comey to the astonishing decision he announced in July that he would not recommend criminal charges against former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, her party’s nominee for the presidency. But future historians are going to find it.
His own explanation — that Clinton’s behavior did not rise to the level of criminal intent — fell apart under questioning by Republicans in Congress.
A withering cross-examination by Rep. Trey Gowdy in July revealed Clinton to be a liar, and Comey her protector. A second go-around between the two men in September drove the point home.
Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor with extensive experience building cases with FBI agents, summed up that exchange sadly.
“That is not the FBI that I used to work with,” he said.
Recent revelations only serve to raise more eyebrows about the actions of Comey’s investigators — damning disclosures about boxes of missing evidence and back-channel communications between the White House and State Department worried about the political ramifications of the Clinton email scandal.
Now, ranking former agents in the bureau are going public with their views of the director. Either Comey botched the investigation of Hillary’s corrupt email practices, or he bent to political pressures or rewards to let her off the legal hook. Either way, say these ex-G-men, the director should be shown the door.
The conduct of the FBI’s Clinton investigation reeked of favoritism and political favors, from agents accepting ground rules for interrogations dictated by their targets, to immunity offers that gave key participants in the scandal get-out-of-jail free cards. Retired agents laid it out for former Investor’s Business Daily Washington Bureau Chief Paul Sperry for a column published Thursday by the New York Post.
“The FBI has politicized itself, and its reputation will suffer for a long time,” complained retired special agent Dennis Hughes, who led the FBI’s computer investigations unit. “I hold Director Comey responsible.”
Hughes was far from alone in his extreme disappointment and sharp criticism.