Sunday 18 August 2019

James Comey: 'No corruption, no treason - just a bid to uncover the whole truth'

  

'The FBI wasn’t out to get Donald Trump. It also wasn’t out to get Hillary Clinton. It was out to do its best to investigate serious matters while walking through a vicious political minefield.' Photo: Reuters/Jim Young
'The FBI wasn’t out to get Donald Trump. It also wasn’t out to get Hillary Clinton. It was out to do its best to investigate serious matters while walking through a vicious political minefield.' Photo: Reuters/Jim Young

James Comey

It is tempting for normal people to ignore the American president when he starts ranting about treason and corruption at the FBI. I understand the temptation. I'm the object of many of his rants, and even I try to ignore him.

But we shouldn't, because millions of good people believe what a president of the United States says. In normal times, that's healthy. But not now, when the president is a liar who doesn't care what damage he does to vital institutions. We must call out his lies that the FBI was corrupt and committed treason, that we spied on the Trump campaign, and tried to defeat Donald Trump. We must constantly return to the stubborn facts.

Russia engaged in a massive effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Near as I can tell, there is only one US leader who still denies that fact. The FBI saw the attack starting in mid-June 2016, with the first dumping of stolen emails. In late July, when we were hard at work trying to understand the scope of the effort, we learned that one of Trump's foreign policy advisers knew about the Russian effort seven weeks before we did.

In April 2016, that adviser talked to a Russian agent, learned that the Russians had obtained "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails, and that the Russians could assist the Trump campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to Clinton. Of course, nobody from the Trump campaign told us this (or about later Russian approaches); we had to learn it, months after the fact, from an allied ambassador.

But when we finally learned of it in late July, what should the FBI have done? Let it go? Go tell the Trump campaign? Tell the press? No. Investigate, to see what the facts were.

As director, I was determined that the work would be done carefully, professionally and discreetly. So, we kept it secret. That's how the FBI approaches all counterintelligence cases.

Worst deep-state conspiracy ever.

But wait, the conspiracy idea gets dumber. On October 28, after agonising deliberation over two terrible options, I concluded I had no choice but to inform Congress that we had reopened the Clinton email investigation. I judged that hiding that fact - after having told Congress repeatedly and under oath that the case was finished - would be worse than telling Congress the truth. It was a decision William Barr praised and Hillary Clinton blamed for her loss 11 days later.

There is a reason the non-fringe media doesn't spend much time on this "treason" and "corruption" business: it makes no sense. The FBI wasn't out to get Donald Trump. It also wasn't out to get Hillary Clinton. It was out to do its best to investigate serious matters while walking through a vicious political minefield.

But go ahead, investigate the investigators, if you must. When those investigations are over, they will find the work was done appropriately and focused only on discerning the truth of very serious allegations. There was no corruption. There was no treason. There was no attempted coup. There were just good people trying to figure out what was true, under unprecedented circumstances.

James Comey is a former director of the FBI

Irish Independent

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