Comey Should Resign. But He Won't.

In National Review, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy does for James Comey something akin to what Comey did for Hillary Clinton in July.  Just as Comey effectively indicted Clinton for extreme carelessness in her email scandal but fell short of recommending referral to the Department of Justice in July, McCarthy essentially indicts the FBI director for extreme incompetence in his handling of the investigation of the email scandal but will not call Comey corrupt or call for his resignation.  Yet the convincing case against Comey that McCarthy makes proves the former and should compel the latter.

Though their respective positions are obviously different on the surface (one in a place of actual power, the other a mere pundit) they are oddly rather similar.  Just as Comey did not have the authority to indict Hillary but merely recommend, his public pronouncement carried with it significant moral and legal weight, which was immediately seized upon by the Clinton campaign and her many apologists in the mainstream media.  Likewise, McCarthy has no power over Comey, but as a respected legal authority and prominent conservative commentator, his view carries not inconsequential influence.

McCarthy repeatedly notes in his many columns on the subject that he knows and respects Comey and that the director is a longtime friend.  Whether this relationship is what most Americans would regard as real friendship or of the Washington variety, where every professional acquaintance that might help you out in the future is deemed a friend, is not for me to say.  But we can safely assume that this relationship, whether it is one of actual affection or of professional circumspection, stays McCarthy's hand.

Yet just as Comey's non-indictment indictment of Clinton spelled out just how willfully corrupt she is, McCarthy's columns can't be reasonably read as anything other than an indictment of Comey's own corruption in the matter.  That McCarthy also credibly maintains that Comey was investigating a complex legal mess, that if truly pursued would have resulted in the indictment of Clinton and the impeachment of the President, may explain Comey's conduct as a matter of bureaucratic imperatives and careerism, but it doesn't excuse his acquiescence to and participation in what has been a massive cover-up of wrongdoing at the highest levels of government.  

By publicly taking the role of the country's prosecutor-in-chief in July (thereby effectively shielding his boss Loretta Lynch and her boss Barack Obama), which was not his job as FBI director,  Comey basically made himself the operative principal conspirator in the cover-up.  He made sure the investigation never proceeded beyond the precincts of the FBI by deliberately bungling the investigation in multitudinous and otherwise inexplicable ways that I, McCarthy, and many other commentators have noted repeatedly over the past year.   

One thing McCarthy doesn't explain, nor have I seen a convincing explanation elsewhere, is why the Justice Department granted immunity to Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Beth Samuelson (and others) when he rightly concludes that Lynch and Comey accepted that the investigation was to go nowhere.  As I noted in a recent piece, you grant immunity to unwind conspiracies, not to enable them.  Since unwinding the Clinton email conspiracy was the last thing Comey seemed to want to do, because the last conspirator in line was Obama (who knowingly used a pseudonym to conduct official classified business on Clinton's private email account), this remains a great unknown.  I posited that Comey was forced to put to bed the chance, however unlikely, that the conspiracy also involved active foreign espionage, but that's an educated guess.  Certainly, it was necessary for the FBI to get at some evidence held on Mills's and Samuelson's computers, as well as the circumstances of the erasure of thousands of Hillary's emails, before they finally shut the investigation down. 

As McCarthy repeatedly notes, had Comey and Lynch honestly pursued the matter in a normal prosecutorial fashion, they would have convened a grand jury with subpoena power.  That they never did this speaks to the underlying corruption of the investigation, but it doesn't explain why Comey was so intent on getting information from the immunized individuals.  Perhaps we will never know for sure – a near certainty if Hillary is elected in November. 

There is an unfortunate tradition among American government officials to resist resignation at all costs, and an unspoken kind of agreement among elites to hold back on such calls to their fellows.  Why this is so, one can only speculate.  European officials resign all the time, out of compulsion or possibly a sense of noble rectitude.  Perhaps American officials, without a tradition of aristocratic duty, feel they have "earned" their posts, and so they take the attitude of "fire me if you can."  As advancement in American government (including the military) is largely a matter of browning one's nose, those in charge are used to subordinating their dignity to ambition.  Hanging on regardless of the stench becomes second nature. 

Comey has, more than any public official in recent memory, deliberately cultivated the image of the principled incorruptible official – like Robespierre.  As with the 18th-century Frenchman, Comey's carefully cultivated reputation has been mostly a skillfully played scam.  He's as corrupt as they come.  But he won't resign, and his "friends" won't demand it of him.

In National Review, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy does for James Comey something akin to what Comey did for Hillary Clinton in July.  Just as Comey effectively indicted Clinton for extreme carelessness in her email scandal but fell short of recommending referral to the Department of Justice in July, McCarthy essentially indicts the FBI director for extreme incompetence in his handling of the investigation of the email scandal but will not call Comey corrupt or call for his resignation.  Yet the convincing case against Comey that McCarthy makes proves the former and should compel the latter.

Though their respective positions are obviously different on the surface (one in a place of actual power, the other a mere pundit) they are oddly rather similar.  Just as Comey did not have the authority to indict Hillary but merely recommend, his public pronouncement carried with it significant moral and legal weight, which was immediately seized upon by the Clinton campaign and her many apologists in the mainstream media.  Likewise, McCarthy has no power over Comey, but as a respected legal authority and prominent conservative commentator, his view carries not inconsequential influence.

McCarthy repeatedly notes in his many columns on the subject that he knows and respects Comey and that the director is a longtime friend.  Whether this relationship is what most Americans would regard as real friendship or of the Washington variety, where every professional acquaintance that might help you out in the future is deemed a friend, is not for me to say.  But we can safely assume that this relationship, whether it is one of actual affection or of professional circumspection, stays McCarthy's hand.

Yet just as Comey's non-indictment indictment of Clinton spelled out just how willfully corrupt she is, McCarthy's columns can't be reasonably read as anything other than an indictment of Comey's own corruption in the matter.  That McCarthy also credibly maintains that Comey was investigating a complex legal mess, that if truly pursued would have resulted in the indictment of Clinton and the impeachment of the President, may explain Comey's conduct as a matter of bureaucratic imperatives and careerism, but it doesn't excuse his acquiescence to and participation in what has been a massive cover-up of wrongdoing at the highest levels of government.  

By publicly taking the role of the country's prosecutor-in-chief in July (thereby effectively shielding his boss Loretta Lynch and her boss Barack Obama), which was not his job as FBI director,  Comey basically made himself the operative principal conspirator in the cover-up.  He made sure the investigation never proceeded beyond the precincts of the FBI by deliberately bungling the investigation in multitudinous and otherwise inexplicable ways that I, McCarthy, and many other commentators have noted repeatedly over the past year.   

One thing McCarthy doesn't explain, nor have I seen a convincing explanation elsewhere, is why the Justice Department granted immunity to Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Beth Samuelson (and others) when he rightly concludes that Lynch and Comey accepted that the investigation was to go nowhere.  As I noted in a recent piece, you grant immunity to unwind conspiracies, not to enable them.  Since unwinding the Clinton email conspiracy was the last thing Comey seemed to want to do, because the last conspirator in line was Obama (who knowingly used a pseudonym to conduct official classified business on Clinton's private email account), this remains a great unknown.  I posited that Comey was forced to put to bed the chance, however unlikely, that the conspiracy also involved active foreign espionage, but that's an educated guess.  Certainly, it was necessary for the FBI to get at some evidence held on Mills's and Samuelson's computers, as well as the circumstances of the erasure of thousands of Hillary's emails, before they finally shut the investigation down. 

As McCarthy repeatedly notes, had Comey and Lynch honestly pursued the matter in a normal prosecutorial fashion, they would have convened a grand jury with subpoena power.  That they never did this speaks to the underlying corruption of the investigation, but it doesn't explain why Comey was so intent on getting information from the immunized individuals.  Perhaps we will never know for sure – a near certainty if Hillary is elected in November. 

There is an unfortunate tradition among American government officials to resist resignation at all costs, and an unspoken kind of agreement among elites to hold back on such calls to their fellows.  Why this is so, one can only speculate.  European officials resign all the time, out of compulsion or possibly a sense of noble rectitude.  Perhaps American officials, without a tradition of aristocratic duty, feel they have "earned" their posts, and so they take the attitude of "fire me if you can."  As advancement in American government (including the military) is largely a matter of browning one's nose, those in charge are used to subordinating their dignity to ambition.  Hanging on regardless of the stench becomes second nature. 

Comey has, more than any public official in recent memory, deliberately cultivated the image of the principled incorruptible official – like Robespierre.  As with the 18th-century Frenchman, Comey's carefully cultivated reputation has been mostly a skillfully played scam.  He's as corrupt as they come.  But he won't resign, and his "friends" won't demand it of him.