The Rise and Fall of James Comey

The New York Public Theatre’s Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar has once again thrust the works of William Shakespeare into the headlines.  The current iteration features a Donald Trump look-a-like in the title role of a modern-day Julius Caesar who is brutally assassinated in the opening scene of Act III.  The overt political message is not subtle.   Other than being a head of state there is little or no similarity between Shakespeare’s depiction of the last days of Julius Caesar and the life and career of Donald Trump.  However, there is another player on the national scene whose career does appear to perhaps mirror a number of Shakespearean characters who rose and ultimately fell as a result of their overriding ambition.  That person is James Comey.

Shakespeare was influenced by the writings of Niccolo Machiavelli, whose seminal work, The Prince (1532), laid out his ideas on how the prince of a country could achieve power and, more importantly, retain it, utilizing devious and at times evil means if necessary.   These underlying principles would apply not just to princes but to political schemers out to solidify their own positions within a ruling hierarchy.

While not directly comparing James Comey with any of English literature’s most notorious villains, there appears to be some very striking similarities insofar as a single-minded pursuit of power and influence. 

Early in his career James Comey was never shy in prosecuting high profile cases in order to burnish his reputation.  His determination to achieve a conviction, however specious, and at any cost would have made Javert of Les Miserables proud.   Mollie Hemingway at the The Federalist has an excellent analysis of some of these cases.

Among them is that of Frank Quattrone a well-known and successful investment banker.  In 2003, Comey, as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, was unable to find sufficient evidence to press criminal bank fraud charges; instead he pursued supposed obstruction of justice based on one specious email.  During the investigation and indictment process Comey made false statements about Quattrone and the intent of the email.  While winning a conviction at trial, the verdict was soon overturned on appeal.

In 2003, in another case that made national headlines and thrust Comey further into the spotlight, he pursued insider trading charges against Martha Stewart.  That charge could not be proven.  Undaunted Comey then claimed that Stewart’s public protestations of innocence were designed solely to prop up the stock price of her own company.  Further he claimed that she obstructed justice by making false statements to a federal official.  As Alan Reynolds of the Cato institute stated, “Stewart was prosecuted for having misled people by denying having committed a crime with which she was not charged.”  Even the New York Times described the entire process as “petty and vindictive.”  Perhaps so, but it served Comey well.

On January 2004, Comey was promoted to United States Deputy Attorney General, the second highest position in the U. S. Justice Department.  Once in Washington D.C. Comey wasted no time in solidifying his power. 

In the supposed leak of Valarie Plame’s name as a CIA agent, Comey convinced then Attorney General John Ashcroft to recuse himself based on a dubious potential conflict of interest rationale.  He then appointed his close personal family friend Patrick Fitzgerald as special counsel even though it was known by all that it was Richard Armitage in the State Department and not someone in the White House responsible for the fictitious leak.  Nonetheless, the nearly two-year investigation completely hamstrung the Bush administration, as many members of the administration, including Vice President Cheney, were under a dark and public cloud of possible indictments.  In the end, Scooter Libby, Cheney’s Chief of Staff, was convicted of a very dubious perjury and obstruction of justice charge, but the damage to the second term of the administration was insurmountable.  “Honest Jim Comey” became a champion of truth and justice to the Left and the mainstream media. 

During this same period of time (2004) Comey attempted to intimidate President Bush in an Oval Office meeting by threatening to resign over the reauthorization of the Bush era surveillance activity.  It turns out that Comey created a memo of that day in language strikingly similar to that of his declared memo regarding his meeting with Trump relative to Mike Flynn in February of 2017.  Yet he testified on June 8, 2017 that the one meeting with Trump was the only occasion when he authored a memo of any presidential meeting.

In 2013, Barack Obama decided to nominate James Comey as the FBI Director to replace Comey’s close friend, Robert Mueller.  The mainstream media was effusive in their comments and support of Comey.  However, the Wall Street Journal in an opposition editorial entitled The Political Mr. Comey stated:

Any potential FBI director deserves scrutiny, since the position has so much power and is susceptible to ruinous misjudgments and abuse.  That goes double with Mr. Comey, a nominee who seems to think the job of the federal bureaucracy is to oversee elected officials, not the other way around, and who had his own hand in some of the worst prosecutorial excesses of the past decade.

In less than two years after assuming the position of FBI Director, the Hillary Clinton email scandal became center stage and an FBI investigation was initiated.   Nonetheless, the hierarchy of the Democratic Party was determined to nominate Hillary as their presidential candidate.  Therefore, James Comey essentially became the most powerful person in American politics as he could easily derail her nomination considering the overwhelming evidence of her wrongdoing. 

During this period Hillary maintained a commanding lead in the polls in any head-to-head match-up with the Republican front runner, Donald Trump.  Virtually all the cognoscenti in Washington were convinced she would win the presidency.  Apparently so did James Comey.

For someone whose career was made on the dogged pursuit of convictions at any cost using, if necessary, the bludgeon of obstruction of justice, he was extraordinarily passive.  Particularly considering there were innumerable examples of pre-meditated destruction of evidence.  He also severely limited the FBI data searches on Clinton staff members computers then ordered them destroyed.  A technician who erased evidence and lied to the FBI even after receiving immunity was given a pass by Comey.   Hillary was formally interviewed by the FBI on July 2, 2016.   The  notes of the interview released by the FBI on the 2nd of September (the interview was strangely not recorded) revealed that Hillary made statements contradicting her earlier remarks or that were flat out lies.  Comey chose to ignore this obvious potential obstruction of justice.

However, in order to assume full control of the outcome of the investigation, Comey needed a pretext in order to circumvent the legal requirement that Attorney General Lynch make the final determination as to any prosecution or exoneration.

In the spring of 2016 the FBI had in their possession emails purportedly revealing that Loretta Lynch had been compromised in the Clinton investigation.  The emails overtly stated that Lynch would make the FBI investigation go away.  However, the FBI knew these emails were fake, as they were created by Russian intelligence.   Nonetheless, Comey decided to use this incident as part of his justification to bypass the Justice Department, stating that he feared if these emails became public it would undermine the veracity and impartiality of the investigation.  However, they would only become public if the FBI leaked them without explanation.

The second ruse was the meeting Lynch had with Bill Clinton at the airport in Phoenix.  Comey later claimed that incident destroyed any semblance of impartiality by the Justice Department and he would be required to take over the entire process of determining whether to prosecute Hillary.  Shortly after the incident in Phoenix, Lynch agreed to essentially step down and accept the determination and findings of the FBI who were investigating Hillary.  

Either this was a solo power play by Comey, or he and Attorney General Lynch colluded in not only exonerating Hillary but in turning over the process to Comey.  However, his recent revelation at a hearing on June 8th of this year that Lynch had instructed him to use the term “matter” and not “investigation” regarding Hillary, combined with other similar testimony in a closed session, could well be his way of reminding her that he in fact has the goods on her.

On July 5, 2016, in a most bizarre news conference Comey essentially read a bill of indictment for felony violations of federal law regarding gross negligence in the handling of classified material.   Nonetheless he recommended against prosecuting Hillary on the specious grounds that there was no intent to harm the United States.  He essentially rewrote the statute, inserting a provision that Congress did not require.

James Comey was now in the position, if he so chose, of demanding any cabinet position in a new Hillary Clinton Administration or remaining FBI Director with a cudgel over her head reminiscent of the days of J. Edgar Hoover and his ability to intimidate all of Washington D.C.  Comey could potentially be the most powerful person in that city.

In late October 2016, it was still a certainty among the Ruling Class that Hillary would win the election.  On October 26th Comey sent a letter to Congress stating he was reopening the email probe based on emails found on Anthony Weiner’s computer.  It was a bizarre move so close to the election on November 8th.   If Comey, as did so many others, assumed she was going to win was this:  a) Comey’s shot across the bow to remind Hillary that he still had her fate in his hands? or b) was it simply a ploy to get back into the political spotlight? or c) was it a gambit to reburnish his image as an honest broker after the July exoneration?  Regardless, within a week he again declared Hillary fully absolved of any wrongdoing.

On November 8th, the political world was turned upside down as Trump unexpectedly won the Presidency.  All the best laid plans of so many, including Comey, were now lying in ruins.  However, Comey, having begun in July of 2016 an investigation of Russian interference in the election process and having a totally fabricated dossier on Trump in his possession, decided to cast his lot with much of the media and the Democrats, in expanding the probe into so-called collusion between the Trump transition team and the Russians in an effort to either force Trump to resign or to permanently hobble his administration.,  

This allegation is totally specious but coupled with incessant leaks (some of which will eventually be traced to Comey) and endless innuendo this false flag operation took on a life of its own.  Eventually Trump, tired of all the machinations, fired Comey for not only his intransigence in the Russia probe but the Machiavellian manner in which he usurped the role of the Justice Department in the Hillary email investigation.  In the aftermath of the firing and admission that the collusion charge was bogus, Comey and his allies have one again turned to the old tried and true cudgel of the past--pushing specious obstruction of justice allegations.

The nation is now witnessing the last act in the rise and fall of James Comey.  He is attempting to exact his revenge and assuage his battered ego with the help of much of the mainstream media and the Democratic Party, who will abandon him when he is no longer useful.   While the New York Public Theatre revels in its nightly assassination of Donald Trump another Shakespearean drama is reaching its denouement.

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