Opinion

A guide to Comeygate: How an FBI director subverted American democracy

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(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

It is clear that former FBI Director James Comey orchestrated an abusive, dishonest and wasteful assault against candidate and President Donald Trump, consuming almost four years of public energy and attention. 

Comey jumped on an obviously questionable Estonian tip relayed to the CIA’s credulously partisan John Brennan, and employed every sneaky trick in his arsenal to cripple Trump.  Comey sensed that with no Russian collusion apparent, he would need to justify a wiretap of Trump, hoping to find a crime.  But to do that, he needed a) from a fabricated preliminary inquiry, to justify an investigation; and b) from that investigation, to fabricate a predicate for wiretapping.  

When the wiretap came up empty, he made book on President Trump, to inveigle a Special Counsel investigation of “Russian collusion,” again with a fabricated predicate, hoping to catch the blustery President in perjury or obstruction, process crimes, Comey’s specialty.  

 Comey’s team first fabricated a predicate for investigation by “catfishing” young Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos.  The FBI team commissioned Professor Joseph Mifsud to approach the inexperienced twenty-eight-year-old, claiming close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, using “Putin’s niece” for validation.  Mifsud then told Papadopoulos about the Russians having Hillary Clinton email “dirt”, while encouraging a Trump-Putin meeting.

Striking out on the Trump-Putin meeting, the FBI team importuned intelligence ally Alexander Downer of Australia to confirm that Papadopoulos had been told of Russia having damaging Clinton information.  Comey now claimed, based on this slim, implanted reed, a fabricated predicate to open “Crossfire Hurricane,” the childishly-named investigation of Trump campaign collusion with Russia. 

Of course, the investigation was opened only to get a FISA wiretapping warrant, in which some crime, any crime, could be detected.  So the team, using cutouts, orchestrated the now infamous “Steele Dossier” as a patently false predicate for a Trump campaign wiretap.  The Steele Dossier connection of ex-spy Christopher Steele  (MI6),  Nellie Ohr ( CIA ) and Mary Jacoby, the wife of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson with Obama influence, was not coincidental.  

The Steele Dossier was as phony as Putin’s niece.  It relied on a nobody with Russian and American citizenship, one Sergei Millian, to claim as “Source D” deep connections to Putin, and as “Source E,” deep connections to Trump, pretty impressive calling cards for a young man living on Astoria Avenue in Queens, and also patently fabricated ones.  This one anonymous source was portrayed as two different sources, without the FBI informing the FISA Court.

After getting fired in May 2017, James Comey bullied the milquetoast Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein into naming a Special Counsel, even though the grounds for appointment were not present. This was Trump’s own counterintelligence investigation, not a criminal probe, without a conflict:

“The … Acting Attorney General, will appoint a Special Counsel when he or she determines that criminal investigation … would present a conflict of interest for the Department …”

(28 C.F.R. § 600.1, emphasis added)

So now Comey had gone three for three: an investigation begun without a valid predicate; a FISA warrant/wiretap gained without a valid predicate; and a Special Counsel appointment without a valid predicate.  With the Special Counsel investigation open, Mueller’s team could prosecute process crimes already created through Comey trickery, Trump barely escaping his web.

One “crime” which Comey had previously conjured up came from FBI questioning of Papadopoulos about “facts” which it already knew, but Papadopoulos did not, were fabricated about Putin’s niece and Mifsud’s connection to Putin.  After FBI agents suggested that any connection of the Trump campaign to Russia was an “election interference” crime, Papadopoulos fudged the timing of his learning of the FBI-fabricated Clinton emails.  So the team indicted Papadopoulos, deceiving the public while hoping he would “cooperate” and finger someone, anyone, connected to Trump.

At the same time, the FBI team had carefully trapped incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, leading him to believe that a truthful answer would be an admission to a Logan Act crime.  Comey’s team had orchestrated the leak of January 12, 2017, to the Washington Post’s David Ignatius, suggesting that if Flynn talked to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about Russian sanctions, he would be guilty of a Logan Act violation, a never-enforced statute.

Comey’s team was sent to entrap Flynn into a lie on January 24, 2017, in spite of the FBI’s ethical duty to inform Trump and Flynn of the transcript of the call, to familiarize them with the Russian investigation, and to give White House counsel notice of the interview.  The interview was not predicated, because the investigation of Flynn had already been closed and it was not material to investigate a call of which the FBI already had a transcript. 

  The Comey team then got Flynn fired, after acting Attorney General Sally Yates convinced Trump that Flynn was now subject to Russian compromise.  The agent accompanying McCabe to Flynn’s interview thought that Flynn was truthful, so Comey’s close associate Peter Stzrok altered the original FBI FD-302 and dictated his own, even though he was not present at the interview.

We now have confirmation that the prosecution withheld exculpatory “Brady Material” from Flynn’s defense team.  Mueller’s Sentencing Memorandum and Statement of the Offense both filed in U.S. v George Papadopoulos, misled the public and the Court about the true lack of Russian connection of Professor Mifsud or Putin’s claimed niece to Russia, and, of course, about the FBI’s dishonesty.  

So for almost four years, Comey has thrown us into partisan turmoil over fraudulent charges of treasonous Russian collusion, the most damaging deception ever foisted on the American public and its President.  So it is not a stretch to term this extended, multi-episode campaign as “Comeygate,” making Watergate look like child’s play. 

John D. O'Connor

John D. O’Connor is the San Francisco attorney who represented W. Mark Felt during his revelation as Deep Throat in 2005. O’Connor is the author of the new book: Postgate: How the Washington Post Betrayed Deep Throat, Covered Up Watergate, and Began Today’s Partisan Advocacy Journalism.
John D. O'Connor

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