James Comey: Caught between the Devil and the deep blue [C]

The rest of the Hot Air team covered the FBI bombshell last night quite thoroughly and not a lot has changed overnight. We still have that letter to Congress from the Director sitting out there like the proverbial turd in the punch bowl, with proclamations and demands coming in from the candidates and spokesmodels for both parties. Without more information to go on in terms of precisely what was found on the “device” shared by Huma Abedin and her estranged (with emphasis on the “strange” part) husband, political analysts are left with little to sink their teeth into. One thing is for sure, however… Tim Kaine is probably regretting his decision last Sunday to shower praise on FBI Director James Comey. (America Rising)

On Sunday, Hillary Clinton’s VP pick Tim Kaine heaped effusive praise on FBI Director James Comey, calling him “a wonderful and tough career public servant.”

KAINE: “What I do know is this: that there was an extensive, as you know Bret, investigation by the FBI under the direction of a wonderful and tough career public servant, Jim Comey. Jim was in the U.S. Attorney’s office in the in the Eastern District of Virginia when I was the mayor of Richmond, and he’s somebody with the highest standards of integrity.”

Here’s a piece of video which I’m sure the Democrats’ veep selection would rather forget.

The man on the life raft in all of this is obviously James Comey. As I was discussing with some friends on social media last night, I actually feel some compassion for the guy at this point because he was in a frankly untenable position. On the plus side, there’s an old axiom in political journalism which holds that if both parties are mad at you then you must be doing something right. But Comey isn’t a journalist… he’s barely a step or two down the ladder from being the nation’s top cop and his position is, in theory at least, supposed to be isolated from politics. Good luck with that, Mr. Comey.

We immediately heard the predictable accusations and praise coming from both sides. The Democrats, including Hillary Clinton herself, had been full of praise for Comey when he closed the investigation last summer. Now he’s being held up as potentially trying to rig an election in favor of the Republicans. Conservatives had derided Comey ever since that day for failing to recommend prosecution in what he himself described as negligence (at a minimum) which should have amounted to a crime. Now the GOP nominee is willing to suggest that perhaps the game isn’t as rigged as he’d previously assumed.

But what I wanted to ask everyone this morning was… what did you expect Comey to do? After sleeping on it, I see nothing to change the immediate conclusion I reached last night. Comey had a choice of announcing this now and having Team Clinton accuse him of trying to throw the election or waiting until November 9th and letting the entire country say it.

In the end it all comes down to precisely what it is that the FBI has gotten hold of. One easy conclusion which I considered yesterday is that Comey must have his hands on something hot. Otherwise why would he risk his entire career, potentially opening himself up to charges that he was tampering with the presidential race? But this morning I’m not so sure. With the little we know so far, we’re talking about thousands of emails. Or, as the New York Times was saying last night, tens of thousands of emails.

Could they possibly have gone through them all and what might it be? We can set aside for the moment the likelihood that anything which was tucked in alongside the pictures of the genitals of Carlos Danger and other sordid material hiding on that device is probably in the hands of some hackers anyway. Did something jump out at Comey which made it at least a high probability that the bureau would need to switch gears and move forward with recommending a prosecution of Hillary Clinton or someone on her staff? If so, then he’s in the clear. But what if it’s just a massive pile of emails and Comey is worried that it might contain a smoking gun, but it could be just retreads of what we’ve already seen? In that case he opens himself up to the aforementioned questions and peril.

He can’t simply empty the bag if the question hasn’t been answered. What if he dumped the entire trove to the press and it turned out to have some new emails marked with a [C] which revealed the names of intelligence agents abroad or exposed critical national security details? He would then be essentially guilty of precisely what many of us suspect Hillary Clinton did herself. The other possibility is that he’s holding something in his hand that definitively makes the case or at least strongly suggests it. Couldn’t he at least produce a redacted version of it? That would clear him of any accusations of partisan tinkering beyond any cloud of suspicion.

With that in mind, I’ll be watching in the next 48 to 72 hours to see if such damning material appears. If not, then the original letter (which said he “couldn’t be sure”) is probably the best we’ll do before the election. And if that’s the case, Comey has probably bought himself a boatload of trouble even if he was simply trying to do his job to the best of his ability.


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