Comey's book: Money, money everywhere, and not a cent to spend
See also: It’s all downhill for Comey now
James Comey's book is set to come out this Tuesday, at which time Comey will no doubt continue to rake in millions and millions of dollars.
Still, the question remains whether or not Comey should spend any of it.
Last week, Newt Gingrich wrote in his column that Comey's book "will be amazingly discredited." Gingrich likened it to a novel, "a work of political fiction."
In line with this narrative is Deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein, no fan of Trump, who was reported to have said that history will prove he did the right thing by firing Comey and that the American people do not have all the facts.
That being said, Comey's book problems could go well beyond Americans moving his book from Barnes & Noble's nonfiction section to its fiction section, or the yelling of "dirty cop" at Comey as he executes his book tour (Comey is charging as much as $850 for a ticket). In the end, Comey very well could lose all the proceeds from both his book sales and book tour.
Like a thirsty sailor at sea, surrounded by water but unable to drink a drop, Comey may become flush with money but unable to spend a cent.
Consider these two scenarios:
1) It is ruled that the book was derived from a crime.
If Comey stole parts of the book from the U.S. government, or his leaking of privileged information contributed to the writing or demand for the book, he could be in big trouble.
On Friday, Congressmen Devin Nunes, Bob Goodlatte, and Trey Gowdy requested that Rosenstein deliver Comey's memos that memorialized his interactions with President Trump. It is no coincidence that the deadline given for this request was 16 April, 2018, one day prior to the release of Comey's book.
In an interview on Friday, Nunes said it seems as though "there is much in the book that comes from the memos."
If, in fact, Comey transferred excerpts from these memos to his book, Comey could be accused of stealing and then selling government property as his own.
Eighteen USC § 641 states that "[w]hoever embezzles, steals, purloins, or knowingly converts to his use or the use of another, or without authority, sells, conveys or disposes of any record, voucher, money, or thing of value of the United States or of any department or agency thereof, or any property made or being made under contract for the United States or any department or agency thereof ... [s]hall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both."
Mr. Comey has no right to sell the contents of Director Comey's memos, because the memos are property of the U.S. government and not Mr. Comey, even if he wrote them and the book's contents are political fiction. The government could be entitled to compensation.
In such a case, the practice of criminal forfeiture, which is part of a criminal prosecution of a defendant, could come into play. Criminal forfeiture requires that the government indict both the property and the defendant.
2) It is ruled that the book itself is involved in a crime.
On Friday, columnist Robert Charles evaluated Comey's book as "an attempt to pre-empt further investigation into his own questionable actions."
If Charles is right and Comey's book turns out to be full of intentional falsehoods aimed to pre-empt further investigation of wrongdoing regarding either the Clinton or the Russia investigation, not only could Comey be vulnerable to obstruction of justice, but legal action could be taken against his book as well.
Under the process of civil judicial forfeiture, the threshold is far lower. The action can be taken against only the asset (in this case, Comey's book), if it is found that the book is involved in a crime (in this case as a vehicle to obstruct justice). Here, Comey's indictment would not be a prerequisite for such a seizure to take place.
In any case, Comey remains at serious risk of drowning in his own sea of criminality.