Disgraced former FBI Director James Comey might be in some real legal jeopardy now that Attorney General William Barr has assigned a prosecutor to investigate the Russia Hoax investigators, of whom Comey was the ringleader.
Comey’s emerging sins appear to range from possibly illegal to outright unethical to obviously partisan. In no particular order, here is a handy rundown of all the controversial issues [updated to nine] surrounding Comey that have yet to be settled, properly investigated, or explained.
- Comey Conducted High-Level Investigations out of FBI Headquarters
It was Comey’s decision to run the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server and the counterintelligence probe of the Trump campaign out of his office at FBI headquarters — as opposed to having a field office handle it, which is the normal course of events.
The reasons for this are obvious: you do not want political investigations at this level tainted by the hotbed of partisanship that is Washington, DC.
Kevin R. Brock, a former assistant director of intelligence for the FBI, explains it this way:
Conducting any investigation — as Comey did — out of FBI headquarters, let alone the Director’s Office, is not by the book. It is so outside “the book” that current FBI Director Christopher Wray is implementing policy, according to reliable internal sources, that restores investigations exclusively to the field offices and prohibits headquarters — where the FBI most closely intersects with the flame of political D.C. — from ever conducting investigations again.
Comey is a political appointee. For him to conduct these investigations out of his own office is an outrageous conflict of interest. The ripple effects of this decision are listed below.
- Comey Grabbed Authority He Did Not Have to Clear Hillary Clinton
To begin with, Hillary Clinton has every right to be furious with Comey for holding his unprincipled news conference back in July 2016 where he announced she would not be charged over the issues surrounding her home-brewed server. But he then went on to lay out a damning case against her recklessness and carelessness with classified material, even though it is highly unethical for anyone in law enforcement to lay out a case against someone who is not going to be charged.
What was truly outrageous, though, was Comey grabbing authority he did not have in announcing Hillary would not be charged. He is the FBI director, not a prosecutor. His job is to investigate and present his findings to a prosecutor, in this case, then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Lynch recused herself from the email case after her “secret” tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton became public, but that still doesn’t give Comey the authority to rewrite the Constitution so that he becomes a member of the judicial branch.
This was so sleazy, so political, so helpful to the Obama administration, at the very least, Comey deserved to be sanctioned.
- The Phony FISA Warrant Based on the Phony Russia Dossier
The FBI’s FISA warrant, which allowed Comey’s investigation to wiretap a Trump campaign staffer, and by extension, the Trump campaign, was primarily based on the Steele Dossier, which Comey knew was 1) “salacious” and “unverified,” 2) a product of the Clinton campaign and Democrat National Committee, and 3) put together by Christopher Steele, a foreign national and hyper-partisan who we now know was desperate to destroy Trump’s campaign.
John Solomon explains:
The FBI fired Steele on Nov. 1, 2016 — two weeks after securing the warrant — on the grounds that he had unauthorized contacts with the news media.
But the FBI withheld from the American public and Congress, until months later, that Steele had been paid to find his dirt on Trump by a firm doing political opposition research for the Democratic Party and for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and that Steele himself harbored hatred for Trump.
If the FBI knew of his media contacts and the concerns about the reliability of his dossier before seeking the warrant, it would constitute a serious breach of FISA regulations and the trust that the FISA court places in the FBI.
That’s because the FBI has an obligation to certify to the court before it approves FISA warrants that its evidence is verified, and to alert the judges to any flaws in its evidence or information that suggest the target might be innocent.
This abuse of power and dishonesty would be bad enough concerning an average citizen, but because this abuse was targeted at an ongoing presidential campaign, it was an abuse against every citizen in this country — all of us.
4. The Phony Documentation in the FISA Warrant that “Corroborated” the Steele Dossier
To obtain the warrant to spy on the Trump campaign, the FBI needed an outside source to corroborate the phony Steele Dossier, so Comey’s FBI cited a Yahoo News article as independent corroboration, which was a lie. The Yahoo article was premised on the Steele Dossier. The FISA court was not told this.
On this issue, John Solomon nails a point home that Barr’s Russia Hoax investigator, Connecticut U.S. attorney John Durham, needs to get to the bottom of:
If the FBI knew Steele had that media contact before it submitted the article, it likely would be guilty of circular intelligence reporting, a forbidden tactic in which two pieces of evidence are portrayed as independent corroboration when, in fact, they originated from the same source.
These issues are why the FBI email chain, kept from most members of Congress for the past two years, suddenly landed on the declassification list.
This timeline must be confirmed and made public ASAP.
5. Comey Launched a Full Counterintelligence Operation Against the Trump Campaign Based on a Dossier He Knew Was Phony
This is the most damning and under-covered act Comey committed, and I sure as hell hope Durham digs into this because Comey’s over-arching behavior is beyond contempt. Let me see if I can find the words to express just how obscene Comey’s behavior was…
Based on a dossier he knew was a fake document paid for and compiled by anti-Trump partisans, Comey launched an intensive spying campaign against Team Trump as though they were the criminals, as though they were suspected of a crime.
This intense spying campaign, which was obviously meant to entrap people into admitting to treason and to meddle in a presidential election, involved no less than a full-fledged counterintelligence investigation using confidential sources, non-FBI undercover investigators, and wiretaps.
This is not only un-American, as explained below; it is unprecedented…
6. Comey Chose to Spy on Team Trump Rather than Warn Them
Kevin R. Brock lays this out perfectly [emphasis added]:
Targeting U.S. citizens working for a presidential campaign with confidential sources, non-FBI undercover investigators, and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) electronic surveillance, is not normal. It’s never been done before. There is no “book” for it.
In addition, experienced counterintelligence investigators will tell you that when there is an intersection of Russian intelligence operatives and a U.S. citizen, the normal “book” calls for the FBI to warn the American about Russian intelligence “tricks” and then obtain cooperation, to help learn even more about Russian objectives.
This traditional book was not followed by Comey’s team, nor were those courtesies extended to the Trump campaign. Instead, campaign members were immediately targeted for investigation.
Once again, based on a dossier he knew was phony, Comey treated the Trump campaign like they were the wrongdoers rather than request their cooperation is nabbing the actual wrongdoers, the Russians looking to influence the campaign.
7. Comey Leaked FBI Materials to the Media
After Trump fired him, Comey leaked internal FBI material to the media in the hope that his leak would result in the appointment of a special counsel, which is exactly what happened.
Jonathan Turley explains the many ways in which this could (and should) be a problem for Comey:
Besides being subject to Nondisclosure Agreements, Comey falls under federal laws governing the disclosure of classified and nonclassified information. Assuming that the memos were not classified (though it seems odd that it would not be classified even on the confidential level), there is 18 U.S.C. § 641 which makes it a crime to steal, sell, or convey “any record, voucher, money, or thing of value of the United States or of any department or agency thereof.”
There are also ethical and departmental rules against the use of material to damage a former represented person or individual or firm related to prior representation. The FBI website states:
Dissemination of FBI information is made strictly in accordance with provisions of the Privacy Act; Title 5, United States Code, Section 552a; FBI policy and procedures regarding discretionary release of information in accordance with the Privacy Act; and other applicable federal orders and directives.”
We are nowhere near the bottom of this particular controversy.
8. Comey Publicly Revealed an FBI Counterintelligence Operation During Congressional Testimony
In what was an obvious play to embarrass President Trump, and while he was still FBI director, Comey told the world:
I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part out our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.
He added that this “will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed,” but he refused to tell the world that Trump was not under investigation. In fact, his testimony was deliberately expressed in a way to give the impression that Trump was under investigation.
But here’s the thing… Who in the Justice Department okayed the highly unusual and unethical decision to publicly announce a counterintelligence investigation? And why would Comey do such a thing, if not solely to put a cloud over the head of a sitting president?
9. Comey’s Role in Ensuring the Phony Dossier Became the “News Hook”
Although everyone, including the establishment media, knew the Steele Dossier was phony, the media still wanted to humiliate Trump by making it public. To do that, though, the dossier required an imprimatur of legitimacy… Well, what could make the dossier more newsworthy than briefing the president on it, which is what Comey was kind enough to do?
Although the dossier was total BS and Comey knew it, he still took Trump aside in private to brief him on it, even though there was no legitimate reason to do so. But then, that briefing was leaked to CNN, and the dossier was made public.
At best, what we have here is the behavior of a preening narcissist with a disturbing Hero Complex, the arson who puts out his own fires. At worst, there was an outrageous abuse of power, an abuse of the civil rights of private citizens; and as I wrote Wednesday, until there is accountability, no one can have faith in the FBI, the CIA, the Department of Justice, the FISA courts, or the overall intelligence community ever again.
The first step in this accountability will hopefully come from an upcoming inspector general report.
The final step will hopefully come from Durham, who has the power to convene grand juries, and there are reports he has already done so.