White House

Is James Comey heroic or facing indictment?

David Avella

How is it possible for a person to be seen in a positive light while simultaneously making insinuating inferences about a potential crime committed behind closed doors yet failing to do anything about that crime aside from writing a memorandum filed away in a desk drawer?

From all reports, this is precisely what recently fired FBI Director James Comey has done.

Much has been said and written about the head-spinning circumstance of having the very same people who only months ago demanded that Comey resign or be removed from office now feigning outrage over the news that he was fired.  

Was firing Comey a good idea only if orchestrated by Democrats, outraged over the FBI’s treatment of Hillary Clinton? This question bears repeating, since it does much to contradict the furor and self-righteousness that accompanies the “this is even worse than Watergate!” cries from liberals and their fellow travelers in the mainstream media.

Nobody can predict with 100 percent certitude where the investigation of possible connections between the Trump for President Committee and the Russians will lead. We do know that even the most ordinary and common of actions have been portrayed in the most negative light. For example, a Russian diplomat briefly encountering now Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a public setting, along with other foreign diplomats, at the 2016 Republican National Convention is portrayed as a failure by Sessions to be honest about his relationships with the Russians in his testimony before Congress during his confirmation hearings.

Thus far, virtually any tangential evidence implying the Trump campaign was in cahoots with the Russians warrants a front-page story. Does it not seem strange that if in fact there was a smoking gun the information would have already been leaked?

This brings us back to James Comey and his discussions with President Trump.

Based on media reports, President Trump basically expressed a hope (a little different than a request, much less an order) that it would be possible for Comey and the FBI to drop its investigation of the recently sacked National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn. This is now prominently described as possible obstruction of justice by a sitting President.

So, what exactly did James Comey do after this exchange with the President?  According to multiple reports, he wrote a memorandum and put it in a safe place.  Will any of the latter-day Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein disciples be inclined to inquire about his motives?

Let’s remember that James Comey is not just some bureaucrat. He is a prosecutor by trade and nature. Prosecutors do not record criminal action. They prosecute it. This is standard operating procedure, and nobody knows this fact better than James Comey.

So what happened here? Is it possible that Mr. Comey kept the memorandum to himself in order to have something to use at a later date for his own self-interest? The first director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, was legendary for having information that could be damaging to presidents, letting them know he had it, and keeping it private while instilling a fear in them of what could happen if they decided to fire Mr. Hoover.

And what else might Comey have felt the need to note in a memorandum?

While Congressional leaders are demanding to see any and all memorandums that Comey wrote concerning the Russian-Trump campaign investigation, maybe they could also request memorandums on all subjects that Comey might have chronicled during his tenure.  

For example, what happened between then-Senator Jeff Sessions and the Russian diplomat last summer? Just what should we call what happened between former President Bill Clinton and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch in the midst of the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails and private server? How about Susan Rice and Benghazi? For that matter, what about President Barack Obama and the actions of the Internal Revenue Service? If complete knowledge and transparency is important, presumably it applies to administrations of both parties.

James Comey served his country in public office for many years. This does not mean he should be given a blank check concerning his actions with President Trump.  Even more so, it does not mean Americans should suspend suspicions that his motives have been less than pure and more about self-interest. It also does not mean his failure to act upon what is being called an obstruction of justice is acceptable.

The time has come for everyone to come clean. And, this includes James Comey.

David Avella is chairman of GOPAC and a veteran Republican strategist. Follow him on Twitter @david_avella