Rep. Chris Stewart, a Republican from Utah made this statement on Monday at the House Intelligence Committee, “Every media organization, every political organization, every government organization that I’m familiar with last fall thought that Secretary Clinton would be the next President of the United States.” and FBI Director James Comey replied “I think the Russians agreed”. The prevailing argument among spurned liberals is that Comey thought the election was close and some bias of his caused him to send his letter to Congress days before the election, knowing that it would shift votes to Donald Trump. But Comey’s statement seems to suggest that not only were the Russians sure of an impending Clinton victory, but so was Jim Comey. If Comey didn’t think Clinton could lose, then the argument about him purposefully trying to elect Trump becomes a little dubious. So why then did he send that letter to Congress?
Jim Comey needed to appear objective, because he was building a case for prosecuting Trump associates, and after Trump had threatened to appoint prosecutors to investigate Clinton during the campaign, he understood he needed to build credibility because he’d be accused of playing revenge politics for President Clinton. Which is understandable, because he’d be leading an investigation, after a very bitter election of the would-be President’s former opponent and whether or not his campaign committed treason.
Or so he thought, but as we know Hillary Clinton won the election and Donald Trump won the presidency.
The FBI had been investigating the Trump campaign and its connections to the Russians since July, and it seems likely that at some point in the fall, the FBI discovered some fire underneath all that smoke. Through that investigation, and leaked documents from intelligence agencies, we now know some things that we might not have known otherwise.
We know that Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, had been on the payroll of several projects aiding the interests of Vladimir Putin, as recently as May of 2016.
We know that a senior policy advisor, Carter Page, has financial interests in the Russian energy sector and contacted Russian officials on more than one occasion while employed by the Trump campaign.
We know that Trump confidante Roger Stone, had contact with Julian Assange and seemed to have foreknowledge on WikiLeaks document leaks.
We know that the hackers who stole information from the DNC and distributed other classified materials with the intent of helping Trump, did so at the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
We don’t know to what extent the Trump campaign was involved in the Russian interference in this election or whether President Trump knew, and if he did when did he know it.
But Comey didn’t need the leaks to know what we’ve all slowly been piecing together in the last few weeks, because as Rep. Trey Gowdy said “I would hope that you had access to everything as the head of the world’s premier law-enforcement agency…So if you had it all, the motive couldn’t have been to help you, because you already had it.”
It would seem that Comey had intelligence linking Trump associates to Russia, had intelligence that Russia was intervening on behalf of Trump, and perhaps had intelligence pointing to collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign for months. Yet, none of that was revealed to us until it was much too late.
Despite taking a very active role in the election, Comey tried his best to appear as a non-political figure with no partisan loyalties. Comey after all was a Republican when he was appointed by former President Obama, a Democrat, to his current position. Commenting on Trump would give the appearance of the FBI being a tool of a Democratic White House, and when he did comment on Clinton many observers maligned Comey as just another part of the “vast right wing conspiracy” against the Clintons.
I don’t imagine Comey wanted to comment on Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump unless he absolutely had to. The recent hearing showed a man who is deeply uncomfortable with making even the vaguest of political statements. But once it became clear, or at least most of us thought it had become clear, that Hillary Clinton was without a doubt going to become President, Comey made a judgement call. He decided that it was worth pissing off his future boss, if it meant that he’d get to see his investigation of the Trump campaign to fruition.
He’d found no criminal wrongdoing the first time he investigated Clinton, he knew that whatever files were on Anthony Weiner’s computer likely weren’t going to amount to the 18½ minutes of missing Nixon tapes. But he announced his re-opening of the investigation anyway. He probably figured that with a week left, voters had already made up their minds, and he had a sure-fire plan for saving face.
Sabotaging Hillary Clinton, in Comey’s mind, might’ve been the only way to maintain his legitimacy. Imagine if after the election, it was leaked that the FBI hid an investigation of Clinton in the final weeks of the campaign. Her presidency would be crippled, the FBI would lose the confidence of the public, he’d be removed from his post and justice would be delayed in the case of the Trump-Russia connection. Russia would intervene in 2018, 2020, or as long as they needed in order to get results. Jim Comey must’ve been cognizant of that. But Hillary lost in the biggest upset since 1948, and now Comey is in the awkward position of investigating the President of the United States of America who is much more powerful than if he were just a loser billionaire.
That’s the theory, Jim Comey was too confident in polling, tried to save America and maybe ended up handing the reins of government to a Russian puppet. There’s also the possibility that Jim Comey is just really bad at his job. Which, isn’t a total stretch of the imagination either. Whatever happened then doesn’t matter now, what matters is following the facts about Trump wherever they may lead.
And so far, they lead to the Kremlin.