My, how times have changed. For the last three months, Democrats have not just defended James Comey, they’ve practically turned his no-action recommendation on Hillary Clinton’s gross negligence on classified information handling into a de facto endorsement. Republicans sharply criticized the FBI director for not fulfilling his duties as a law-enforcement professional, and many suggested that he had been co-opted by either the Clintons or the White House.
One little letter to Congress later, and everyone’s switched sides. Go figure. House Oversight Chair Trey Gowdy tries to restore a little perspective to the circus, reminding everyone on MSNBC’s Morning Joe that the blame in this case falls to the woman who concocted the e-mail system and defied several laws, not with the man tasked with investigating the allegations:
BRZEZINSKI: There are those who say, and many, that the timing of this is really questionable, really inappropriate on the part of Comey. What’s your reaction to that?
GOWDY: That not a single one of the facts at hand is directly attributable to Director Comey. He didn’t tell her to set up her own private email server. He did not tell her to mislead the public about whether or not she sent or received classified information. He did not tell Huma Abedin; hey don’t turn over all your devices. And God knows he didn’t tell Anthony Weiner to sext with underage girls.
So none of that is Jim Comey’s fault. The timing is a direct and natural consequence and probable consequence of decisions Secretary Clinton made years ago.
Mika Brzezinski opened by asking Gowdy about the letter Harry Reid wrote to Comey, scolding him for having “a disturbing double standard” and accusing Comey of violating the Hatch Act — a law that forbids public officials from using their official resources to influence elections. Gowdy nearly laughed out loud over that accusation:
REP. TREY GOWDY, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Just how laughable that is. You know it was the Attorney General who met with the spouse of the target of an investigation on the tarmac. And the president himself prejudged the outcome of the investigation during the pendency of the investigation. And Senator Reid didn’t write a letter to either one of them about the Hatch Act.
I mean President Obama is actively campaigning right now for a candidate for president. And that doesn’t violate the Hatch Act. So how Jim Comey supplementing his record before Congress violates the Hatch Act is just laughable.
For that matter, wouldn’t this blast from the past be a violation of the Hatch Act — under Reid’s interpretation, anyway? After all, Reid told this lie (rated “Pants on Fire” by Politifact) on the floor of the Senate in a direct and obvious attempt to influence a presidential election four years ago:
But why go back four years? Reid’s letter — sent as an official communication from his office — demanded that Comey release information on Trump’s dealings with Russia, which he said sources told him was “explosive”:
“In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors and the Russian government — a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity,” Reid wrote to Comey this weekend.
By Reid’s own definition, his letter is a Hatch Act violation — as well as a transparent smear, similar to the McCarthyite tactics Reid employed four years ago. It’s yet another demonstration that Reid might well be the most despicable person still in office. Reid’s letter is laughable … at least. But Reid’s attempts to spread lies isn’t really a Hatch Act violation, even if it is still despicable, and Comey’s status update to Congress doesn’t even come close.
If Democrats are angry that their candidate has ended up in the middle of a renewed FBI criminal investigation with just days to go before the election, they should blame Hillary Clinton for putting them in that position. Or, better yet, blame themselves, as Sonny Bunch argued earlier today:
If you are Very Mad about Comey, maybe don't nominate a paranoid unindicted felon for president.
— Sonny Bunch (@SonnyBunch) October 31, 2016