The Comey chronicles

Kimberley Strassel:
What if all the painful drama over Donald Trump and Mike Flynn and Hillary Clinton and Russians wasn’t really due to Donald Trump or Mike Flynn or Hillary Clinton or Russians? What if the national spectacle the country has endured comes down to one man, James Comey ?

It was certainly all about the former FBI director on Thursday, as he testified to the nation via the Senate Intelligence Committee. Mr. Comey didn’t disappoint. He already had submitted pages of testimony detailing his every second with President Trump, complete with recollections of moments he felt “strange” or “uneasy” or “awkward.” But on Thursday he went further, wowing the media with bold pronouncements: President Trump was a liar; the president fired him to undermine the Russia investigation; the president had directed him to back off Mr. Flynn.

Mostly he pronounced on what is—and is not—proper in any given situation: when handling investigations, interacting with the president, or releasing information. By the end, something had become clear. Mr. Comey was not merely a player in the past year’s palaver. He was the player.

It was Mr. Comey who botched the investigation of Mrs. Clinton by appropriating the authority to exonerate and excoriate her publicly in an inappropriate press event, and then by reopening the probe right before the election. This gave Mrs. Clinton’s supporters a reason to claim they’d been robbed, which in turn stoked the “resistance” that has overrun U.S. politics.

We now know it didn’t have to be this way. Mr. Comey explained that he had lost faith in then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s ability to handle the affair, in part because she had directed him to describe the probe in public as a “matter” rather than an “investigation.” That one of President Obama’s political appointees outright directed the head of the FBI to play down an investigation is far more scandalous than any accusation aired about Mr. Trump. Mr. Comey said it gave him a “queasy” feeling. But did he call on Ms. Lynch to recuse herself? Did he demand a special counsel? No. Mr. Comey instead complied with the request. Then he judged that the only proper way to clean up the mess was to flout all the normal FBI protocols. Vive la resistance.
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There is more.

Comey appears to be basing his original investigation of a document that has proved to be bogus.  This is not just bad tradecraft.  It is a scandal that is not about Trump but about an FBI chief who intervened in both sides of an election.  The facts suggest he should have recommended an indictment of Clinton for her mishandling of classified material and he should have ignored the Russian conspiracy theories.

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